Leinster's Rob Kearney has been named the ERC European Player of the Year 2012.

The award crowns an outstanding season for the full-back who started every one of Leinster's nine European games as the province triumphed in the Heineken Cup for a third time in four years.

Kearney succeeds teammate Sean O’Brien as the winner of northern hemisphere rugby's ultimate individual accolade. The 26-year-old was presented with his award, a specially struck gold medal, by ERC Chief Executive, Derek McGrath, at a ceremony in in Dublin on Monday. 

Kearney scored six tries during the Heineken Cup campaign and pushed himself into contention for the honour with a series of high-quality displays in the tournament's pool and knockout stages.

"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."

Kearney also shared a close-up picture of the medal with his 67,000 twitter followers along with the message: "Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would win this award!"

Rob Kearney picture