2018 Six Nations: Rob Kearney praises Joe Schmidt's influence

Rob Kearney and Rory Best have now won two Grand Slam titles for Ireland
Rob Kearney and Rory Best have now won two Grand Slam titles for Ireland

Ireland's Rob Kearney has hailed the support he received from head coach Joe Schmidt after becoming one of only two Irish players to be celebrated as a double Grand Slam champion.

Kearney and Rory Best won a Six Nations clean sweep in 2009 and the pair are still playing nine years on.

"I've had a huge amount of backing from Joe over the years," said Kearney.

"When you get the backing from a coach like him, who has achieved so much, it does a lot for your confidence."

Kearney has played under Schmidt since his arrival at Leinster in 2010.

"I've been incredibly lucky to have been part of his Leinster days and what we achieved [with him] in Europe," said the 31-year-old.

"I think what he has achieved in the game speaks for itself.

"The amount of trophies he has won, he's done a huge amount of things that no other Irish coach has done before.

"He's a superb coach and his medal locker speaks for itself."

We'll always want more - Ireland captain Best

Ireland's official homecoming celebration had to be cancelled because of bad weather in Dublin but speaking at the squad's return to their team hotel in the city, Kearney said that he believes there is still more to come from the current generation.

"The Grand Slam was something that was certainly on our minds and to work so hard building towards something and to finally achieve it is always a fantastic feeling," he added.

"The margins have been so small in lots of these games, we understand that a bounce of the ball either way and we could have lost one of those games and finished third or fourth so we'll continue to try and build.

"We've a really exciting summer tour against a quality Australian team away from home in a three Test series, so continuing to build and to get better as a team is always our focus."

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