He may have signed off from Irish rugby, but Rob Kearney’s playing career remains up-and-running after the Emerald Isle’s most decorated player signed a one-year deal with Australian Super Rugby franchise Western Force.
The 34-year-old announced his departure from Leinster and the national team at the end of the 2019/20 season, bidding farewell in style by helping the Dubliners earn their third straight Guinness PRO14 title.
In 95 Test appearances for his country across 12 years, Kearney was part of four Guinness Six Nations-winning squads – including two Grand Slams – while he featured in three Rugby World Cups and toured with the British & Irish Lions in 2009 and 2013.
But having left his mark in the northern hemisphere, the Dundalk-born star believes he has time for one last challenge before hanging up his boots, and he will link up with Perth-based Force for pre-season later this year, ahead of the 2021 campaign.
On top of his international success Kearney has won four European Champions Cups, a Challenge Cup and six PRO14 titles domestically, and he is hoping for further honours Down Under.
He said: “I am delighted to be joining the Western Force for their upcoming season and excited to play with such an ambitious club.
“I hope to add value both on and off the field that complements the high ambition of the club.
“I’m particularly excited to immerse myself in a new performance environment and to play both with and against some of the best players and teams in the southern hemisphere.
“I look forward to moving to Western Australia to begin building relationships with my new teammates and coaches alike and to meet the ever-growing Western Force fan base which also includes a strong Irish contingent.”