Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 8°C Saturday 31 October 2020

'It's like studying, something I didn't do in school' - Schmidt's homework keeps players busy

Keith Earls says the level of analysis done by the squad is intense.

Earls is getting sharper with each passing day.
Earls is getting sharper with each passing day.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

ACCORDING TO KEITH Earls, you could be walking around in the morning during an Ireland camp and Joe Schmidt could jump out of nowhere with a pop quiz on your latest assignment.

The Ireland boss is famous for his meticulous video preparation and as the Munster utility back works towards full fitness, he has been cramming as much information into his head as possible.

By his own admission, Earls is probably more studious now than he was during his final year at St Munchin’s.

“It’s like being back studying, something I didn’t do in school,” Earls laughs.

“All coaches have their detail and since we are in camp away from our families we have an extra bit of time to do some more video work,”

“It is fairly intense and you always have to be switched on,” he continued.

“You find yourself up until half nine at night doing video work. Joe wants you to know your detail and you saw against Italy with players going down, if you don’t know your detail you will let the team down if you get in. He’s an unbelievably intelligent coach, especially around the backs.”

Earls has only been back a few weeks from a long-term knee injury but has already shown glimpses of the dynamic running that we saw regularly before the lay-off.


It was a relief for Earls to reach a level of performance close to his best so he can show his national coach that he is ready to be considered for selection.

“My biggest problem was Joe having confidence in my knee and myself having confidence in my knee,” Earls said.

“The last couple of times I was in camp I ended up breaking down and eventually I had to get an operation so the more game time I get gives more confidence to both of us.”

Interestingly Earls says he was the 24th man for the Italy game and Fitzgerald filled that role last weekend. It seems the duo are fighting for the chance to be the next back called in but Earls is just hoping that if Schmidt gives him a chance, he makes the most of it.

“You just don’t know with Joe,” Earls said.

“He doesn’t like people being able to read him and you never know when you might be called upon,”

“Hopefully I get another chance and embrace it because it has been nearly two years since I played for Ireland,” he continued.

‘On the evidence we’ve seen so far you would have to back England’

Richie McCaw looks set to retire after this year’s World Cup

About the author:

Read next: