Rob Kearney is hoping to get his career back on track by helping Ireland enjoy a successful series of autumn internationals.
The 27-year-old’s star had been in the ascendancy until the start of this decade. He had played a key role in Ireland’s brilliant 2009 Six Nations campaign, which culminated in the team completing the Grand Slam, and played in all three of the British & Irish Lions’ games against South Africa four years ago.
However, as fans who watch live rugby online will no doubt be aware, his form has dipped as Ireland’s performances have deteriorated, and he did not start in any of the Lions’ Tests in Australia this summer.
Ireland’s last competitive match was a disastrous 22-15 defeat to Italy in Rome that marked the end of Declan Kidney’s time in charge but Kearney is looking forward to games against Australia, New Zealand, and the perennial outsiders in the rugby betting, Samoa, in November.
He said: “If you are looking objectively on it, we are probably not in a great situation. But from where we are inside the camp it is very different.
“There is a real freshness there, new excitement, we’ve got some key players back and fit so where we are perceived to be and where we actually feel are pretty far apart. In saying that, we need to back it up with some wins.”
Joe Schmidt is now the Ireland coach and Kearney hopes the Ireland fans will give the former Leinster man the time to stamp his mark on the team.
He added: “I’m not saying the country should expect three losses in the autumn but I do think it will take time before we see the very best performance from this Irish team. It’s not going to happen immediately.
“Even Samoa are ranked ahead of us, so that’s not going to be an easy game. They’ve taken some big scalps.”