big change | 

Retired rugby star Rob Kearney speaks of transition to ‘normal life’ after rugby

The former Ireland and Leinster rugby star got married to Jess Redden in December

Rob with Jess Redden on their big day last year

Kevin Palmer

What comes next is a dilemma so many sporting heroes encounter when the time to retire arrives, with Ireland rugby great Rob Kearney working his way through that process over the last few months.

After hanging up his well-worn boots last November, Kearney admits adjusting to life without the structure of training and preparing for his next match has been a challenge.

While his marriage to Jess Redden in December helped to set him on his way to a new life away from rugby, Kearney has revealed the transition to what he describes as ‘normal life’ has taken some getting used to.

“I don’t miss rugby as I was ready to walk away from the sport when I made the decision to retire, but what comes next is a huge transition in your life,” says Virgin Media Sport analyst Kearney, who played 95 times for Ireland and was part if two Grand Slam-winning Six Nations triumphs.

“I was playing until I was 35 so you do know that you are dwindling and those moments are starting to run out so you prepare yourself for retirement, but it is still a big change in your life.

“You have to be pretty patient with yourself because I have never gone through this phase of my life before where every day isn’t dictated by a schedule and you always know where you will be at every exact time for the next two or three weeks.

“So, it takes a bit of time to find out what works for you and it takes a bit of time to work out what you enjoy doing.

Rob Kearney on Virgin Media Sport

“I would have gone to the gym every day, every second day, my whole life. Now I’m at a stage where I don’t have the drive to go there, so I might not go there for two weeks at a time and you’re playing a bit of five-a-side soccer or squash to keep you moving over.

“It takes a bit of time as well to find out what you enjoy and you wake up some mornings realising that you don’t have to do something and it’s just as easy not to do it.

“I’m definitely enjoying it. There are parts of the day where you’re a bit bored but I find the busier you keep yourself the easier it is to stay active and busy.”

Kearney has used the spare hours in his life to jet off for a skiing holiday earlier this month with wife Jess and he has also taken up a role as a rugby analyst with Virgin Media Sport for this year’s Six Nations Championship.

Yet it is the bond with his rugby team-mates that he misses as much as the competitive action as he looks to the second half of his working life through fresh eyes.

“You build up so many relationships with your teammates and you have that good craic,” added Kearney.

“It’s the little moments in the changing-room during the day, or nipping off for a coffee together after a gym session and just having the craic. You do miss that environment and you do miss the friendships off it

“But I’m also looking forward to what is coming next. I have so many things going on in my life and a lot to look forward to.”

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