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'You just can’t think about it' - Earls not stressing over Lions call

The 29-year-old was a Lions tourist in 2009 in South Africa.

JUST ONE MORE day and the squad predictions can end.

At 12pm on Wednesday, Warren Gatland will name a squad of 37 to 39 players to travel on the Lions tour of New Zealand this summer.

The captain, widely expected to be Sam Warburton, will have been informed by now, given that he will be required in London for the squad announcement press conference tomorrow.

Keith Earls runs in for a try Earls was on the 2009 Lions tour of South Africa. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

A nervous 24 hours or so lies ahead for many of those thought to be on the fringes of selection for Warren Gatland’s touring party, but others have simply turned off any thoughts of the Lions – not that they don’t want to travel.

Keith Earls was a Lion in 2009 and would embrace the challenge again this year, but the Munster man simply doesn’t want to waste time and energy thinking about something he can on longer directly influence.

The Ireland wing had a strong Six Nations and was man of the match last weekend against Ulster in his very last possible audition, meaning he can be content that he’s provided Gatland with a reminder of his quality.

I know everyone says it but genuinely you just can’t think about it,” said 29-year-old Earls yesterday. “I’ve done everything possible – if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. It’s mainly Saracens this week.

“If lads are in contention, if your name does get called out, it’s a great feeling and it’s probably one of the best in your rugby career.

“I’m not lying to you, it’s not a cliché. I’m genuinely not thinking about it.”

The competition in the back row is as fierce as most spots in the squad, with Earls’ Munster team-mate Simon Zebo also in the mix having been a starter for Joe Schmidt’s Ireland this season.

Keith Earls celebrates scoring his try with Gordon D'Arcy Earls celebrates a try with Gordon D'Arcy. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Stuart Hogg, George North, Liam Williams, Tommy Seymour, Elliot Daly, Mike Brown, Leigh Halfpenny and Antony Watson are just a few of Gatland’s other options in this area, meaning Earls hasn’t featured in too many pundits’ predicted squad lists.

But his experience and form mean he will have been in contention.

While the rest of us debate exactly who is going to be on the plane to New Zealand, Earls himself is happy to forget about it and possibly be surprised by good news tomorrow afternoon.

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Murray Kinsella

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