On a mission
Kearney tells Sky Sports why personal accolades will mean nothing if Leinster fall at the final hurdles.
By Tony Curtis - Follow me on Twitter: @SkysportsTC. Last Updated: 15/05/12 12:36pm
Rob Kearney: Wants to guide Leinster to Heineken Cup glory
Leinster full-back Rob Kearney will aim to end his "Heineken Cup heartbreak" in Saturday's showpiece final against Ulster at Twickenham.
Kearney missed Leinster's 2011 triumph over Northampton through injury, while he was sidelined with mumps in the build up to the 2009 final against Leicester and had to settle for a spot on the bench.
The Ireland international did manage a second-half appearance during the 19-16 win over the Tigers, however he is now hoping to play a more decisive role for the club.
Kearney certainly played his part in seeing Leinster reach the final after he was named man-of-the-match in the semi-final win over Clermont - with the 26-year-old landing a monster drop-goal at the Stade Chaban Delmas.
And Kearney is now hoping to recover from the minor back twinge that ruled him out of the RaboDirect PRO12 play-off semi-final win over Glasgow Warriors to wear the No.15 jersey at Twickenham.
"The Heineken Cup final was my major goal at the start of the season," he told Sky Sports.
"Having missed out in 2011 and missed the semi-final in '09 and just made the bench for the final against Leicester, this is the one game that I wanted to play in.
"Rugby doesn't owe me anything but I have had my fair share of Heineken Cup heartbreak in the past so this is a big opportunity for me."
Success would top a memorable year for Kearney, who has named Irish Rugby Union Players' Association Players' Player of the year after playing a key role in guiding Leinster to two finals.
However Kearney insists the accolades will count for nothing if the side fall at the final hurdles.
"It has been a good year for me personally but to be honest I've got no winners' medals to show for it at the moment," he said.
"We've got ourselves in a good position for perhaps one or two trophies but until we have won anything it is hard to say how well it has gone.
"We are in it to win it and that is something that we now have a chance to do."
Standing in Kearney and Leinster's way will be Ulster, who have already produced a number of impressive results in this season's Heineken Cup.
Wins over Clermont and Leicester in the pool were followed by a memorable success against Munster at Thomond Park and then Edinburgh in the last four.
And Kearney knows how dangerous the Ravenhill side can be - particularly with points machine Ruan Pienaar pulling the strings.
"They have got lots of players we need to stop," admitted Kearney.
"They've a big physical pack and in Johann Muller, Pedrie Wannenburg and Stephen Ferris they have some big powerful ball carriers.
"But it is important that we stop giving away penalties as Ruan Pienaar has shown what he can do when you give him the opportunities.
"He is a class player so we have to be aware that we can't afford to lose our discipline."
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