Rugby takes back seat as Earls just wants baby daughter home
FOR once, an Irish victory is not top of the wish list for international rugby player Keith Earls this weekend -- he simply wants to see his baby daughter back home from hospital.
Last night, Mr Earls's father, Ger Earls, said the family hoped that 10-day old Ella Maye will be allowed home this weekend.
Earlier yesterday, the Munster player pulled out of tomorrow's Six Nation's tie against Wales after his little girl was rushed to hospital.
Ger Earls said that Mr Earls and his partner Edel McGee were hoping to have their child "home by the weekend".
Ireland team manager Michael Kearney confirmed that Mr Earls wouldn't be wearing the number 13 rugby jersey, made famous by Brian O'Driscoll.
"Keith has been ruled out due to personal reasons," Mr Kearney said.
"Unfortunately his baby has been taken ill and is in hospital as we speak. The nature of the illness is unclear.
However, I did speak to Keith this morning and he was hopeful and optimistic that the baby would get home some time over the weekend."
Mr Kearney said that the decision not to play Mr Earls was taken after the player spoke to coach Declan Kidney.
"It was thought that it was in the best interests of Keith, his partner and their families that Keith remain in Limerick for the weekend," he explained.
In his absence, Fergus McFadden has been promoted from the bench to outside centre.
Mr Kidney revealed at Wednesday's team announcement that Mr Earls had only been able to take a limited part in training for the past week.
It was hoped the 24-year-old Munster back would return to the Irish camp that night, but concerns over the child's health have resulted in his withdrawal.