Rob Kearney: 'I have lived the dream' - Full-back writes open letter after Leinster and Ireland farewell

Rob Kearney and Fergus McFadden lift the Pro14 trophy
Rob Kearney and Fergus McFadden lifted the Pro14 after defeating Ulster in September's final

Rob Kearney has penned an emotional open letter after ending his time playing for Leinster and Ireland.

The full-back won 95 Ireland caps and donned the blue of Leinster for 15 seasons, winning countless trophies.

Kearney, 34, toured with the British and Irish Lions on two occasions.

"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," said Kearney.

Kearney was a regular for Ireland under Declan Kidney and Joe Schmidt, featuring in the Grand Slam winning teams of 2009 and 2018 along with the historic victories over New Zealand in 2016 and 2018.

He leaves Leinster as Ireland's most-decorated player, having won four Six Nations, four European Cups, six Pro 12/14 titles and one Challenge Cup, while he was also named the 2012 European Rugby Player of the year.

'I look forward to being a supporter'

Kearney's final Leinster appearance came in August's behind-closed-doors victory over Ulster at the Aviva Stadium in the Pro14 and he admits he missed the "greatest buzz" of playing in front of supporters before his departure.

Although he did not feature in the final, Kearney and fellow stalwart Fergus McFadden lifted the Pro14 trophy at the Aviva Stadium earlier in September.

"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," added Kearney.

"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.

Rob Kearney
Kearney played an integral role in Ireland's two historic victories over New Zealand in 2016 and 2018.

"I remember when we played away in Toulouse in the European quarter-final in 2006. Nobody gave us a chance but we came away with a win and played some unbelievable rugby along the way.

"It was the first time that I could sense the belief in the support as well. That trip home to Dublin and looking into the eyes of the supporters that had made the trip. Belief.

"For Ireland, the sea of green in Chicago and in Twickenham on St Patrick's Day for our Grand Slam decider are images that will be ingrained in me for life.

"The medals and what you achieve are great but they are just by-products of good culture, good people, and a relentless drive to do better. And we had that in spades in the teams I played with in Leinster and with Ireland.

"Thank you all once more and I look forward to being a supporter again, like I was as in Dundalk all those years ago."

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