Wednesday 14 January 2015

Kearney Should Stay Put To Continue His Development

I want to make one thing clear from the off. I am a big fan of Mick Kearney.

What I'm not a fan of, however, is the rumoured move that he will make at the end of the season to Leinster. This isn't like the Henshaw rumours - Kearney is out of contract at the end of the year, so the implications of a switch wouldn't be as precedent setting, but I believe it would be a bad move.

It would be a bad move for Leinster. It would be a bad move for Connacht. It would be a bad move for Mick Kearney. It would be a bad move for Irish rugby.

It would be a bad move.

Mick Kearney remains the most impressive lock I've seen play for the Ireland Under 20s in the last 6 years. That includes Irish internationals Iain Henderson and Devin Toner.

Kearney's strengths are his lineout calling. He's a very good loosehead lock, whose workrate and tackling ability has been improving, and whose technical ability is very good.

The former Clontarf and Blackrock College second row has come through the ranks of Nigel Carolan's academy and has improved every year since the Under 20s. His breakthrough year last year came when the likes of Craig Clarke and Connacht legend Michael Swift were still in vogue.

He is now Connacht's premier second row, and while Quinn Roux and Aly Muldowney came come on leaps and bounds since the start of the season, Kearney a young second row to build a pack and lineout around.

He's not finished developing, but he's close. Another year or two in Connacht and Kearney will be banging fiercely on the international door.

That process will not get faster with a move. Leinster currently have Australian international Kane Douglas and Devin Toner as their first choice locks. Toner is an automatic first choice for Ireland. His main attributes mirror Kearney's and his physical attributes and development tip the scales in his favour considerably.

Douglas is a highly paid international, brought in to provide the grunt and shift of a classic tighthead lock. A fine partner for Kearney perhaps, but not a replacement. Toner and Kearney are too similar for that partnership to work in the long term, and Douglas is too well paid and valuable to be left out.

The man on the outside would end up being Kearney. Very similar to the last Connacht second row who decided to move East - Mike McCarthy. McCarthy is signed up for another year, and will prove another stumbling block for Kearney to overcome.

Not to mention the young second rows that Leinster will have in a few years. Ross Moloney is as close to a carbon copy of Leo Cullen as you can find. Moloney is an intelligent leader of men for such an inexperienced player, who is excellent in the lineout, and hardly puts a foot wrong. With such talent blocking his path, it won't be beneficial to anyone to add another player to the mix.

Kearney is better off served staying Connacht. For at the very least, another two years. Connacht's development should provide enough excitement to hold him until then, and the block in Leinster might just be down to Ross Moloney.

Mick Kearney to Leinster in 2015 is a very bad idea.

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