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Rugby World Cup: Dave Kearney is reaping the benefits of his hard work after injury ravaged year

By Cian Tracey

Published 23/09/2015

Ireland's Dave Kearney
Ireland's Dave Kearney

It's not an exaggeration to say that Dave Kearney is in the form of his life but it's not something that has happened by chance overnight.

All summer, the talk surrounding the Ireland camp was that Kearney had come back fitter and stronger than ever and he has brought that onto the pitch.

After an injury-ravaged year in which he tore his cruciate ligament, he fell down Joe Schmidt's pecking order - but what a difference a year makes.

If the Ireland coach were to select his strongest starting XV today, Kearney would be a certainty to be included but he was worked hard to get to where he is.

"I suppose the off-season was different this year when I knew I had to give myself the best opportunity of coming back in the best shape I can and start off on the best step I can," Kearney explained.

"I trained a fair bit during my off-season and obviously it was good having (brother) Rob there to do that with.

"That was probably the only main difference, that I did a lot more training when I was away on holidays than I would have done in previous summers - giving yourself the best start when you come in for the first day of pre-season.

"I think when you go off for four or five weeks and you don't really do any weight training, you drop your muscle mass and kind of start off at square one again instead of where you finished the last season.

"So this season I just tried to keep that muscle mass up and come back where I finished off and used that pre-season to build on that again."

Living with a brother who is striving for the same ultimate goal has its obvious immediate benefits.

Putting aside the fact that both are professional athletes, the sibling rivalry alone makes them bring out the best in one another.

Earlier this week, Rob admitted that his younger brother was putting him under pressure in the terms of gym work but for Dave, he's just happy to have someone constantly pushing him.

"If you're doing fitness on the pitch on your own, it's tough," the 26-year-old admitted.

"Once there's someone with you it's easier. It's competitive, you're working against each other and trying to get the best out of each other.

"Some days the thought of going to the gym and doing fitness on your own is tough but having Rob there as well, knowing we could work together, made it easier.

"I suppose if you're doing fitness no-one wants to lose so you keep going hard against each other and that gets the best out of each other.

"It's good having someone that you can work with and you can then push each other on."

Outside of the day-to-day training with Leinster and Ireland, the pair are constantly trying to get an edge and this summer took up boxing in a local Dublin gym to ramp up the intensity.

"We sparred but there was no real head shots. There might have been the odd one that was slipped in, though," he smiled.

"It was competitive. Especially if someone hits you in the jaw, you're not going to take too kindly to it.

"It would get heated. It wouldn't really matter who it is you're going up against - Rob or someone else. It's always going to be competitive."

Kearney, one of seven try scorers last Saturday against Canada, had another excellent game in what was his World Cup debut.

The feeling in St George's Park, where Ireland are based this week, is that Schmidt will rest the majority of his front-liners but if Kearney is included, he wouldn't see it as a hindrance to his chances of playing in the crucial games later on in the pool stage.

"I would just see it as another opportunity to perform," he said.

"I've heard Wembley isn't far off being sold out and you don't want to give up a chance of playing a World Cup game.

"I got a taste for it last week and it is a pretty special thing so if there is an opportunity, I am not going to want to pass it up."

Belfast Telegraph

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