Rob Kearney aiming to push Leigh Halfpenny for Lions full-back spot
Last Updated: 15/06/13 4:00pm
Rob Kearney: Ready to take his chance
Rob Kearney is thrilled to be finally making his first appearance in a British & Irish Lions squad in Australia - and has not given up hope of playing in the Tests.
The Ireland star will start on the bench in Saturday's tour match against New South Wales Waratahs in Sydney.
The full-back suffered a hamstring injury during the warm-up ahead of Leinster's PRO12 final with Ulster in Dublin last month.
Leigh Halfpenny has been in majestic form and appears to be in pole position to win the No 15 shirt for the first Test with the Wallabies next week, but Kearney remains hopeful that he can play a part in the Test series.
"Leigh Halfpenny has done fantastically well. He found himself in the full-back position by chance a little bit. He has stepped in there and made the position his own pretty quickly," Kearney said.
Kearney excited to play
"I think he has gone from strength to strength, but I'd like to think I can still push him.
"My timing hasn't been great, and his 11 from 11 (goals) hasn't helped me, but there is a lot to happen on this tour."
"If there is one time in four years not to pick up an injury or little niggle it is at the start of a Lions tour. My timing couldn't have been any worse," Kearney said.
"I got a scan in Hong Kong and it could easily have gone either way - I could have been getting the first flight back to Dublin or going off to Australia with the lads.
"It does give you a bit of perspective, especially when you then see a few boys heading home like Cian Healy and Gethin Jenkins."
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Kearney said staying on the tour gave him renewed confidence and he was experiencing no problems with his hamstring.
"I took a bit of confidence from that and then you start to feel that luck is on your side. Then you get the chance to put the jersey on again, which is a fantastic feeling, albeit it might be a little bit late," he said.
"But then there is a lot to happen yet - I'm running perfectly, have no problems at all and I'm even happier than I expected to be."