Ireland full-back Rob Kearney has revealed his sympathy for those not selected to tour with the Lions this summer, while revealing the sheer delight he feels at being included in the 37-man touring party.
Among those to miss out are Kearney's Ireland team-mates Simon Zebo and Rory Best, while Kearney is joined by eight of his Ireland compatriots for the ten-match tour that culminates with a three-Test series against Australia.
He said: “It’s a beautiful thing if you make it; it’s a nightmare if you don’t. And that’s why you feel particularly sorry for the guys who are close and they probably should have made it and they don’t, that’s a pretty big blow to take.
“The initial joy when you are selected, that’s an awesome feeling. But sometimes you gotta think about the other side of the coin too and just how devastating that can be for some guys.”
Kearney also revealed that he was not convinced that he would be included in the touring squad prior to the announcement.
“You’re never very, very confident,” he said. “I knew the chances of me going were better than not.
"But you always have that small bit of doubt in your head. At the end of the day it’s one or two guys making a decision on who their squad is and for one reason or another they may take a disliking to you. So you’re never fully confident of something.”
The Leinster No 15 also stated that he was aware when Lions selectors were present at matches, and that one cannot help but notice when he features on a stadium's big screen.
“I’ve talked to guys who have been part of a winning Test series over the years, and it's the be-all and end-all of their career" - Rob Kearney
He said: “We’re not completely oblivious, if you’re looking at a big screen and all of a sudden three Lions selectors are coming up, and then it flashes to a picture of you, you can put one and one together more often that not.
“We’re used to television cameras being there and viewing figures, so there’s a part of you that does come a little bit natural and you learn to sort of zone these thing out and focus on the moment. But at the same time of course it’s going to be there at the back of your head just tapping away at you.”
The 27-year-old also feels that being part of the 2009 Lions tour has increased his desire to be part of this year’s tour Down Under.
“The last time I had never been on a Lions tour before, so I was probably a bit naive to the whole make-up and exactly what it stands for,” he said.
“This time around the excitement is much more, and the desire to be on the Test team, and a winning Test team.
“I’ve talked to guys who have been part of a winning Test series over the years, and it's the be-all and end-all of their career.
“We’re so lucky that we have the opportunity to do that going down there, and the results of that opportunity would be huge.”
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