Kearney is the best in Europe
Ireland and Leinster fullback Rob Kearney has been crowned as the ERC European Player of the Year, succeeding teammate Sean O'Brien as the winner of the prestigious individual accolade.
The 26-year-old has been in exceptional form for club and county this season, and started every one of Leinster’s nine European games as the Irish club triumphed in the Heineken Cup for an unprecedented third time in four years.
Kearney scored six tries during the campaign and pushed himself into contention for the honour with a series of high-quality displays in the tournament's pool and knock-out stages.
The electric outside back scored two tries in the quarterfinal victory over the Cardiff Blues, then followed that up by creating a try for Cian Healy and landing a superb drop goal in the thrilling semifinal success against ASM Clermont Auvergne, before playing a key role in Leinster's record-breaking 42-14 final win over Ulster at Twickenham on Saturday.
Kearney was presented with his award, a specially struck gold medal, by ERC chief executive, Derek McGrath, at a ceremony in Dublin on Monday.
"Rob was both rock-solid in defence and inspirational in attack during what was another magnificent Heineken Cup campaign for our 2012 champions, Leinster," said McGrath. "He scored six tries, ran powerfully, kicked superbly and the sheer all-round quality of his performances made him an excellent choice as ERC European Player of the Year 2012."
"It really is an honour to have won this award," said Kearney. "While I am delighted with the recognition, an individual player is powerless without the support of his teammates. So I owe this to the Leinster squad, to the management and to all the backroom staff at the club."