Saturday 25 November 2017

It's Earls' time to come of age

Keith's ready to end long wait for French win

Keith Earls has been recalled Photo: Getty Images
Keith Earls has been recalled Photo: Getty Images

Niall Crozier

KEITH Earls was 12 when Ireland last beat France in Paris.

The date was March 19, 2000 -- the day on which Brian O'Driscoll, who had just turned 21, alerted the world to his now fully realised potential by chalking up a hat-trick of tries at the hosts' then still new national stadium.

Earls recalls: "I remember watching it at home and I remember going into school on the Monday. I think I was in fifth or sixth class in school and I remember drawing a picture of Brian scoring a try and having three French fellas crying."

As the laughter following his revelation subsides, he is more serious as he attempts to weigh up what lies ahead. This will be his first 6 Nations start, his entry to that particular arena having come last weekend when, in the 56th minute, he took over from Andrew Trimble who could feel the tightening of a hamstring.

Earls did well enough to have forced a switch of roles. This time he starts and Trimble looks like being on the still-to-be-decided bench.

Earls said: "It's a massive challenge. It's a tough place to go but I've a bit of experience with the Heineken Cup, playing against Perpignan. I can't wait for the challenge.

"It has been a good couple of years since we won in Paris but I think we just have to go over there and get a good start. I think the last couple of years we let France get a couple of scores up and then we had to fight back

"But we have a good game plan set and we'll try and play that. Hopefully we'll get the result."

Calling on the experience gained against French opponents while on Heineken Cup duty for Munster, repeatedly he stresses the importance of starting well.

"That's massive. If you get the

Source: Belfast Telegraph

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