Leinster may have finished top of the Magners League standings, won the Heineken Cup just 12 months ago and be unbeaten at home since 2008 but there’s no way complacency will creep into their game for Saturday night’s Grand Final.
The Dubliners take on the Ospreys in their home city in the inaugural season-decider having won the last six encounters between the two sides yet Rob Kearney is fully aware of the size of the challenge that lies ahead.
Kearney was one of the stars of 2009 – winning Test caps for the Lions and playing no small part in a first Irish Grand Slam since 1948.
His form this year has remained impressive, even if it hasn’t quite hit the heights of 12 months ago, yet it is the talents of the Ospreys rather than those possessed by himself that have been the focus of his discussions with the media.
The modest yet confident 24-year-old clearly has the utmost respect for an Ospreys side that features seven of his Lions team-mates and packs as much quality as many top-draw international XVs.
“They’re an awesome side. They’ve a huge amount of internationals, talent right across the board,” said Kearney.
“Their backrow is up there with the best in the competition, as is their back three. They’ve got centres who can create things from nothing. They’re dangerous right across the board.
“They play off quick ball and Mike Phillips will be a huge threat.
“Marty Holah can create a lot of disruption at the breakdown so we need to be on to him if we want to get some quick ball – or any ball at all.
“Give them space and time and they can do damage to you.”
Despite the amount of talented runners and breakdown specialists in the Ospreys line up, Kearny is expecting plenty of possession to come his way on Saturday night.
The Ospreys have favoured a slightly more conservative approach in recent weeks, kicking from their own territory and attacking with ball in hand when nearer the red zone.
Always comfortable under the high ball, Kearney believes he’ll have a lot to do, especially in the early stages, but he insists he thrives on that responsibility and can guarantee that’ll he’ll be in confident mood, not just for his own good, but for the sake of his team-mates.
“They do kick a huge amount,” added Kearney.
“That’s the way the game is going these days. You kick ball from your own half, and when you get into the opposition half, you try and utilize the ball you have to try and score.
“They rarely play ball from their own 22. Lee Byrne has a pretty big kick on him so we’ll be trying to keep the ball away from him.
“Here, it’s left up to the player a huge amount. We’re responsible for our actions. Kicking plays would never be too much indented on the game plan.
“Fullback is a position where you need to convey a huge amount of confidence as well as experience, because the 14 boys in front of you need to always be sure they can trust you. Having a level of experience, or even portraying that you have, is important.”