Scotland 10-6 Ireland, Murrayfield, August 6
Kearney revels in return
ESPNscrum Staff
August 7, 2011
Ireland fullback Rob Kearney skips away from Alasdair Strokosch, Scotland v Ireland, Rugby World Cup warm-up, Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Scotland, August 6, 2011
Ireland fullback Rob Kearney completed 80 minutes against Scotland © Getty Images

Ireland fullback Rob Keraney spoke of his relief at returning from a serious knee injury to the international arena following his side's defeat to Scotland on Saturday.

Kearney played his first match since sustaining cartilage and ligament damage in knee against New Zealand last November, completing the full 80 minutes unscathed. The Lions fullback is an important player for Ireland and his solid display was welcomed by a management team that had little else to celebrate on a chilly afternoon at Murrayfield.

Kearney, making his comeback alongside Tomas O'Leary and Jerry Flannery, admits the occasion had been playing on his mind but was satisfied with the way it unfolded.

"It's a huge relief to be playing again. I'd been nervous all week - I don't usually get nerves beforehand," said Kearney. "I came across some big obstacles. The result wasn't what we wanted but from a personal perspective it was good to get through it.

"I felt really good at times, but was blowing at other times. All in all I was happy and felt pretty comfortable. I've come back from injury before where you try to do something magical, but my main focus was to do the basics right and make as few errors as possible.

"I was pleased with the way it went, but if I'd had a shocker I wasn't going to judge myself too much.Likewise if I had a stormer I wasn't going to get over-excited either. I don't know if I'll be playing every week, but I'd love to play every week."

Ireland coach Declan Kidney had not planned for Kearney to finish the match, but later insisted the 25 year-old's confidence will have grown from the experience. Though he did not expect to be on the pitch at the final whistle, Kearney was delighted by the way his left knee responded to the work out.

"When I saw (substitute) Felix Jones on the line I wasn't happy to be going off, but I thought maybe that was for me," he said. "During the week I'd prepared for 60 or 70 minutes, maybe a little foolishly.

"Then I'd got cramp towards the end for their try. I was a little bit surprised I got through the full 80 and was given the full 80. But the knee feels brilliant, which for me was the most important thing.

"There were a couple of tackles and contact situations where I thought 'it's nice to be back'. You appreciate those collisions again in a strange sort of way."

Kearney gave his jersey to team physio Brian Green after the match.

"Brian's been fantastic over the last nine months. When you're injured you're out in the cold a little bit at times," he said. "You only have your rehabilitator to whinge down the phone to and throw your strops with. He was brilliant.

"It was just a small gesture. I just wanted him to know how much I appreciated everything he'd done."

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