Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

13.07 21 Nov 2020


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Irish rugby star Leinster Rob Kearney says his imminent move to Australia "came around quite suddenly". 

He says the opportunity to play with Western Force in Perth is 'very exciting', and it comes as Australia is one of the few places in the world now operating 'close to normal' during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking on Down to Business, Rob - Ireland's most decorated player - said he was aware earlier this year that his rugby career for Ireland and Leinster was reaching its conclusion.

Rob Kearney: Decision to sign for Australia's Western Force 'happened quite quickly'

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He observed: "In August-September, I think I'd probably come around to the fact I was most likely staring down the barrel of retirement in October - and I was quite happy to do that. I've had such an incredible career that I've enjoyed so much.

"But at the back of my head I was always thinking 'my body still feels good, and my mind is still up for the challenge'. Western Force in Perth started negotiations in September time, and things happened quite quickly in terms of getting a contract signed.

"It all happened quite quickly, and came around quite suddenly."

As a result of the deal, Rob and his fianceé Jess Redden will next month be moving across the world for six months.

Rob told Bobby: "They're COVID-free at the moment - they have amazing parameters in place to make sure they're managing the virus.

"[Although] it's very easy to do that when you can shut your borders down and not let anyone in or out - unfortunately we don't have that luxury in this country."

Autobiography

Rob was speaking to the show to mark the recent publication of his autobiography No Hiding, which covers his life and career to date.

He went to boarding school from the age of 13, and he says that's ensured he still has a tight circle of close friends.

He explained: "Effectively, you'd been living with them for six of your teenage years.

"The bond you'd create with some of these guys would be very similar to the bonds you have with your brothers growing up. Boarding school does allow you to do that on a different level."

Rob explained that going with honours maths in the Leaving Cert and subsequently failing remains "a big regret" - saying he "should really have gone with the pass one".

However, in hindsight he believes he was lucky to be able to go to UCD instead of his first choice Trinity.

He explained: "Leinster were training on campus as well, so it made it a lot easier to try to focus on a dual career with both of them side-by-side on the same plot of land."

As well, as his under-grad degree, Rob also completed a Masters in Business at Dublin Business School.

He told Bobby: "In 2011 I picked up a pretty serious knee injury - I was going to be out [of rugby] for the guts of a year.

"I needed something else to challenge myself, and give me something to try to achieve off the rugby field."

He now credits it as one of the best things he's done in his life, saying it helped give him a 'kick-start' in the world of business.

Main image: File photo of Rob Kearney. Picture by: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

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