Thursday 19 September 2019

'He hit his highest speed score today in training' - Earls raring to go ahead of first warm-up appearance

Keith Earls during Ireland Rugby squad training at Carton House in Maynooth, Kildare. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Keith Earls during Ireland Rugby squad training at Carton House in Maynooth, Kildare. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Des Berry

The confidence of defence coach Andy Farrell had something to do with the men welcomed back for their first international of the season.

Jonathan Sexton, Robbie Henshaw and Keith Earls all bring experience and leadership to a group in need of the latter.

It has been something of an achievement for the medical and coaching staff to hold these competitors back this long.

How are they?

"Raring to go, they’ve been held back for at least a week or two, can’t wait to get going this weekend," said Farrell.

The sure-to-be-sure approach has been understandable and worthwhile if Keith Earls’ peak performance is anything to go by.

"He’s fine, hit his highest speed score today in training as he was going to score a try in the corner which delighted us all."

It is small victories, like these, that go towards building confidence in the individual and, by extension, the team.

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Sexton and Henshaw will be eager to get the ball their hands and those of the electric Earls.

Ireland are still looking for that one pre-World Cup performance they can look back on when the going gets tough in Japan.

World number one Wales will provide the perfect opponents as long as Ireland can deliver on their plan to show a return to form.    

"It is our last game before we get on the plane on Wednesday. We’re after a performance that we’re proud of," stated Farrell.

"The important thing is we put the performance in, the cohesive performance and the right mental attitude to take forward into two weeks and the start of the World Cup against Scotland."

The shaving of nine names from the squad has given the group a narrow focus to channel all their energy. 

There is also a warning that all the selection decisions have not been made for Scotland.

"Well, (there is) a little bit of that, but also people gaining their first starts and trying to get a few different combinations going.

"It's still having a look. What is important is that, yes, we're down to 31, but there's still massive competition for places for who takes to the field in that first game.

"Everyone wants to be involved in that and the guys that take to the field on Saturday, they're in the shop window to put their best foot forward for a start in the first World Cup game."

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