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Keith Earls: I usually know my body, I should have come off earlier


Keith Earls. Photo: Sportsfile

Keith Earls. Photo: Sportsfile

Keith Earls. Photo: Sportsfile

As soon as Maro Itoje clattered him into him, Keith Earls knew he had done some damage to his hip.

What may come as a surprise, however, is that the incident in question occurred from the opening kick-off and not after 18 minutes when Itoje should have been shown a yellow card for his questionable challenge on the winger.

The injury wasn't bad enough for Earls to immediately be subbed off but he has been around the block enough times to realise that he wasn't operating at full fitness.

"It was actually the first kick-off, I think it was Itoje twice, the first kick-off and then the one in the air," Earls explained.

"It was a collision. I don't know what he thought of it, whether he got his timing wrong or whatever, I had a look back at it and it does look bad but that's not for me to say.

"It was just a big collision, he is a big man and I think if it had been anyone smaller I would have been alright. It was frustrating. Everything kinda shut down around my hip and it was sore to run because it swelled out. They usually loosen out but it didn't.

"I suppose it was the first time I stayed on injured and tried to run it off because I'm usually quite good at knowing my body and when to come off so from that aspect I probably should have come off earlier.

"Half-time was probably the worse thing to happen because you're sitting down for, whatever, 10 or 15 minutes and it just got a bit sore.

"I went to do a run indoors just to test it and it was too sore so the physio and doctor called it. I trained today so it's just a normal week for me once I don't get someone banging off it in training.

"I came out here (team hotel) early on Sunday, sent the family home early unfortunately, so I could ice it non-stop. Those are the sacrifices you make."

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Many people felt that England targeted Earls, especially because he was by some distance the most experienced player in Ireland's back-three.

"I'm not sure, there was a lot of pressure down my way alright with kicking," the Moyross man maintained. "I don't know, I suppose it worked for them anyway."

Earls got caught out for Jonny May's early try and while he didn't look to use the injury as an excuse, he put his hands up for what was a bad read on Owen Farrell's bullet-like pass to Elliot Daly.

"It was obviously 100pc my fault," he admitted.

"I got my numbers wrong on the edge. I didn't see Daly out there, I thought it was May. I was going to go for the intercept but obviously Farrell's pass is one of the best in the game and it beat me.

"I should definitely have just tucked if I had taken a look up. I should have tucked in with Conor (Murray). I think Billy (Vunipola) had offloaded it so we got caught off the mark and that's why I tried to solve a problem on my own but I got it completely wrong. Look, I am big enough and old enough to know that and accept that."

Earls has recovered from his knock and is in line to start in Murrayfield for a game that, simply put, is a must-win.

"Everyone thinks we were poor but some of our decision-making by individuals probably let ourselves down but we actually didn't play that badly," Earls added.

"We're not a bad team overnight all of a sudden. We know there is another massive challenge ahead with Scotland and with the firepower they have we have to be 100pc.

"We can't I suppose be off the mark like we were at the weekend."

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