Rob Kearney Reveals Joe Schmidt Gave Him A Stern Warning Ahead Of All Blacks Clash

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It’s safe to say Rob Kearney didn’t have too many fans ahead of the New Zealand game on Saturday.

Many fans and media outlets, including ourselves, questioned Joe Schmidt’s decision to start the out of form fullback. Kearney has endured a difficult spell the past couple of seasons, with man fans believing his best days were behind him.

Kearney however came out on Saturday and silenced all the doubters, rolling back the clock in a simply fantastic performance that was reminiscent of the Kearney of old which saw him become one of the best fullbacks in World Rugby.

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The Leinster fullback has revealed that he has Joe Schmidt to thank for that performance, as the kiwi coach pulled him aside before the game and let him know that he needed a big game against the All Blacks.

He pulled me aside before the game and he said, ’You need a big one today’.

It wasn’t ideal, but it was good.

We’ve been together a long time now from when he first came to Leinster.

So maybe that was the one-liner that I need to put the fear of God into me.

5 November 2016; Rob Kearney of Ireland is tackled by Aaron Smith of New Zealand during the International rugby match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field in Chicago, USA. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

5 November 2016; Rob Kearney of Ireland is tackled by Aaron Smith of New Zealand during the International rugby match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field in Chicago, USA. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Kearney spoke after the game and revealed he was aware of the criticism all week, but was glad he could repay Schmidt’s faith in him. He did stress however, it wasn’t a perfect performance and he has a way to go yet before he’s back to his very best.

It’s been a tough enough 18 months. Just, first and foremost, body has not been where it was been.

Then on the back of that, you’re not playing to your potential and people get on your case, then you get on your own case.

Inside my head has been a dark enough place in the last few months.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to be selected this week, and I’m just glad I was able to repay Joe and my fellow players the trust that has been shown. But there’s still lots of stuff to work on, it wasn’t a perfect performance by any means.

Brilliant insight into Schmidt’s man management and fantastic to see a player of Kearney’s ability rediscover the kind of form that made him a world beater.

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