Sunday 18 February 2018

Tommy Bowe backs Earls move to England as Munster dismiss exodus fears

Tommy Bowe. Photo: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Tommy Bowe. Photo: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
David Kelly

David Kelly

Munster have urged the IRFU to accelerate renewed attempts to retain Keith Earls as they cling to the slim hope that they can hang on to the international wing.

However, everyone else involved in Irish rugby has conceded that there is little chance on reversing Earls' decision to sign a three-year deal with Saracens, with wing rival and former Ospreys' stalwart Tommy Bowe wishing the player luck on his new move.

"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 start for him," Bowe told Newstalk's morning radio show.

"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."

Earls' Munster team-mate Tomas O'Leary also commented on the news and stressed that there may now be a need for the IRFU and Joe Schmidt to reverse the unwritten policy barring overseas players representing their country.

"I wouldn't be privy to Joe Schmidt's thinking but I think you will find, especially if one or two lads go, they will end up having to select their best players," said the Grand Slam-winning scrum-half.

"We don't have a big enough playing population to be picky, especially if more players go."

Earls will join Paul O'Connell in leaving Munster, while the futures of Simon Zebo and Conor Murray remain unresolved, but Tommy O'Donnell has played down fears of a player drain.

"It's individual circumstances," he said. "Like, I think coming from Munster we're still very collective.

"If players decided they were to leave, it happens. When David Wallace got injured, everyone was asking where players were going to come from."

Irish Independent

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