'Saracens move can be a fresh start for Keith Earls' - Tommy Bowe on surprise news
Keith Earls' Ireland team mate Tommy Bowe believes a move to reigning Aviva Premiership champions and Champions Cup favourites Saracens can be a 'fresh start' for the Munster man.
It is understood that the 28-year-old is on the verge of clinching a move to Allianz Park next season.
The 2008 Heineken Cup winner looks set to join fellow Ireland internationals Ian Madigan (Bordeaux-Begles) and Marty Moore (Wasps) in confirming his intention to leave his province for life abroad.
The news will come as a shock to Munster fans who also face the prospect of losing Simon Zebo, with his contract set to expire at the end of the season.
Speaking about the proposed move on Newstalk Breakfast with Ivan Yates, Tommy Bowe said: "To see the money and what's being offered abroad, I mean the French league is crazy with the money they are bringing in from TV rights and now with the English clubs having had their salary caps increased and the new deal with BT Sports, there is a huge amount of money abroad
"I think that IRFU will have to look at different ways of trying to keep their best players in Ireland, it's something that they have looked after in teh past.
"For people like Keith Earls, he's had a fantastic career at Munster and I'm sure he would have loved to have stayed at Munster but sometimes a change, going to a new club, can be a fresh thing... a fresh start for him. I'm sure he wouldn't have taken the decision lightly.
"I wish him all the best and hopefully only being over in England, we saw with Johnny Sexton in France being able to come back and play for Ireland.
Bowe is uniquely placed to understand the emotions that Earls is experiencing having spent four years with the Ospreys.
"With the Ospreys, I just wanted to get away from Ulster, that's nothing against Ulster, I just wanted to try something different," he said
"Looking back it was probably one of the best rugby decisions I ever made."
For the first time since 1997, no Irish province has made the last eight of the European Cup and Bowe has admitted it's a wake-up call.
"It's difficult to see that (no Irish team in the last eight)). We've been spoiled since the European Cup has been going because the Irish provinces have been so successful," he said
"Maybe it's a wake-up call, maybe some things need to be changed.
"I think the Irish provinces are still in a very strong position, whether it's a world cup hangover, it's hard to say. Next year, maybe there's going to be a few changes and we'll be right back up there again."
Meanwhile, Bowe is still recovering from the cruciate injury to his right knee that he suffered in the early stages of Ireland's Rugby World Cup quarter-final defeat to Argentina and has not put a date on his return to action.
"Things are going alright, I'm starting to get moving again, I'm out of my leg brace and starting to build up a bit of strength in my knee again.
"It's a week-to-week process but things are going well at the minute.
"I've got to make sure it's right and not rush things. I'm happy with they way it's going and hopefully I'm back to play some part in Ulster's season and potentially try and get on the summer tour for Ireland as well."