Keith Earls happy to put Munster duty first

Keith Earls may be back to his brilliant best in a red jersey, but the Munster flyer admits breaking into a winning Ireland team is out of his hands.

The 27-year-old won the last of his 39 caps two years ago against Italy, and has never played under Ireland coach Joe Schmidt.

Since returning from long-term injury against Sale Sharks on January 25, the centre/winger/full-back has produced three eye-catching performances in the No.13 shirt for Munster, helping catapult the Reds to the top of the Guinness Pro12.

Calls for Earls’ inclusion in the Ireland squad are growing, his line-breaking ability arguably lacking in an Ireland team that seems content to employ a conservative kicking game.

However, the Limerick man says he’s just glad to be playing injury-free right now and helping Munster attain a home semi-final in the Pro12.

“I think every game is important to me,” says Earls. “I know I keep repeating myself but staying injury-free is the main thing, and I just have to do my best every week.

“Whatever Joe (Schmidt) thinks, it’s his decision — he knows best. You see from Ireland’s results, it’ll be very hard to change a winning team but I’m keeping the head down; I’m happy to be helping out the lads and being down here with Munster.

“If Ireland keep winning, it’ll be even harder to change a winning team. To get a run of games with Munster gives me confidence, and the lads confidence. My body is in a good place at the moment.”

Earls did take part in an Ireland camp in Galway prior to the England game but rejoined Munster as they continued preparations ahead of last weekend’s showdown against the Warriors, a game that will be remembered for a moment of genius in the build-up to his second half try.

Earls chased down a superbly placed grubber from Ian Keatley, flicked the ball up into his hands with his right foot before diving over in the corner.

“It was a try out of nothing,” admits Earls. “Keats (Ian Keatley) showed great vision. Their winger was up, their full-back had gone across to the other side, and Keats put it through. I chased it down. I think in 2008 against a Dragons, I again had a flick-up so I had to prove to a lot of lads that it wasn’t a fluke back then!”

He added: “It was a massive win. Glasgow were missing a lot of players, and we were missing a few but they have a great squad, play a great brand of rugby. We knew we had to be right up there on Saturday, and thankfully we were.”


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