They don’t look great odds for a player with World Cup ambitions. You’re one of eight wingers in the Ireland squad, the only one not to have played a Test for the current coach.
Yet Keith Earls is not only optimistic for his chances of making Joe Schmidt’s 31-man squad, the Munster back feels he is on the brink of an exciting second chapter in an international career that has stalled since March 2013.
Injuries have stymied his ambitions since, but the 27-year-old finally has a chance to convince Schmidt he is worth a place, starting, he hopes, this Saturday against Wales in Cardiff.
“I see it as a second chapter in my career and hopefully it will be better than the last 39 caps,” Earls said yesterday.
“I’ve been waiting for two-and-a-half years to get the 40th cap and hopefully I will get it in the next couple of weeks.”
Earls has been knocking on the door since he returned from a knee injury in January and trained with Ireland throughout the last Six Nations campaign without getting the call.
Making a World Cup squad, then, would be a significant achievement in the face of such high-level competition.
“It would be great, after all the frustration I’ve gone through. Even talking to Luke (Fitzgerald), and him getting in during the Six Nations and he said he thought he’d never see the day when he’d play again.
“He’d a lot of serious injuries. It’s tough when you’re rehabbing and you think you’re never going to get there. Then the way some of the lads are playing when you’re watching in the autumn and the Six Nations and stuff, you think ‘jeeze, I’ll have to put in a lot of work to get there.’
“And when you’re in camps it is quite good. It’s a sense of achievement getting back into Joe’s squads, never mind a 23 or a 15.”
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