Rob Kearney has written an open letter after his near 15-year association with Leinster concluded with the end of their 2019/20 campaign last Saturday. The 34-year-old wasn’t involved in the Champions Cup quarter-final loss to Saracens.
However, he jointly lifted the PRO14 trophy the previous week with Fergus McFadden having earlier featured in their August game against Ulster, a match that was Kearney’s 219th appearance for his home province. Kearney was due to leave Leinster at the end of the 2019/20 season in June but had his time at the club extended by a few months to accommodate the restart of the campaign following the lockdown.
“I am so very grateful for every run out that I did get in a Leinster and an Ireland jersey,” he wrote in a near 1,000-word letter published on Thursday. “Losing to Saracens brought my time in a Leinster jersey and by extension an Irish jersey to an end.
“I spoke to the players in the dressing room after the game and I spoke about living a dream because that is what I have done. I have lived the dream of every five-year-old boy or girl out there that dreams of pulling on a Leinster jersey, an Ireland jersey, a Lions jersey.
“I consider myself very fortunate to have done the greatest thing that I could have done with my life and I have lived the dreams that I first had as a young lad in Dundalk RFC with the minis.”
Thank you all so very much
— Rob Kearney (@KearneyRob) September 24, 2020
The full-back, who earned 95 Ireland caps and also starred for the Lions on their 2009 tour to South Africa, made no mention in his letter about retirement, leaving the door ajar to a continuation of his stellar career somewhere outside Ireland.
He had been linked with a switch to the Top 14 in 2019 prior to signing a one-year extension with the IRFU that kept him on board for that year’s World Cup campaign in Japan, but it now remains to be seen what definitely comes next for Kearney who was quickly linked with Western Force in Australia after the publication of his letter on Thursday.
“You never get to write the script, but if I could, it would go as far as a packed RDS or Aviva in front of thousands of Leinster and Irish Rugby supporters where I would have had the opportunity to thank you all.
“The Leinster and Ireland supporters’ role in this journey has been special and running out in front of full stadia is what gives the greatest buzz and we have all missed that over the last few months and you appreciate it all the more now playing in empty arenas.”
Leinster were hailed as 'Invincibles' after their unbeaten PRO14 season, but it didn't prepare them for Saracens and now a brutal post-mortem awaits
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 20, 2020
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