Thursday 14 December 2017

Keith Earls to miss Six Nations with knee injury

Keith Earls, Munster, leaves the field after picking up an injury in the first half
Keith Earls, Munster, leaves the field after picking up an injury in the first half

Keith Earls looks set to miss this year’s Six Nations after Munster confirmed the knee injury he suffered in Sunday’s win over Edinburgh would keep him out for six to eight weeks.

The winger had been in line to start Sunday week’s opening game against Scotland but will now face a race to be fit in time for the final games against Italy and France. With such  competition for places in the back three, it will be difficult for the talented Limerickman to force his way in.

Earls, who signed a new contract with the IRFU this week, has not played for his country since the defeat to Italy in Rome in last year’s final Six Nations game.

The 26-year-old has had a tough run of injuries and looked to be finally hitting a good run of fitness and form before Sunday’s unfortunate clash with Edinburgh’s Dougie Fife.

Munster today confirmed that he had damaged his medial ligaments and the results of scans show that he will be out until March.

His absence will open up a wing spot with a number of players contesting for a spot in Joe Schmidt’s team with Tommy Bowe also out.

Fergus McFadden will get his chance to prove his fitness with his return from a broken hand in Saturday’s Wolfhounds game, while Craig Gilroy and Simon Zebo could also feature.

Dave Kearney is the man in possession after November, while Schmidt spoke highly of Andrew Trimble’s attributes this week and Luke Fitzgerald is in flying form for Leinster.

“I thought Dave Kearney did very well against the All Blacks,” he said. “Fergus McFadden made five clean line breaks when we had an ordinary performance against Australia.

“Luke Fitzgerald has been showing good form. Obviously Keith Earls, we’re really disappointed about.

“I think Keith is a super player and it’s disappointing, but having Andrew Trimble back; I thought he was really good against Leicester and really good in the air.

“He brings a physical edge that maybe Tommy has got size wise. He’s the other big guy, and then having the luxury to get Craig Gilroy and Simon Zebo back. I still believe they may be a little bit short, not of quality, but of quality game time and so that’s probably just why initially we weren’t looking at those guys at the forefront. But it gives you a little bit of comfort if we do get injuries.”

Ruaidhri O’Connor

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