Keith Earls. Dan Sheridan/INPHO

'I derailed myself. Didn’t have control of my mind. I was an emotional wreck' - Keith Earls

Ireland winger opens up about mental struggles in television interview.

WITH TYPICAL HONESTY, Ireland winger Keith Earls has given an incredible interview to ITV in which he has outlined his issues with mental health in startling terms.

Speaking to Gabriel Clarke, Earls admitted that despite winning over 100 caps ahead of the Rugby World Cup, he wouldn’t consider himself as an Irish rugby great.

“I’ve only really enjoyed my career from my fiftieth cap on,” he said

“I don’t know if the boys know how lucky they are that they don’t get the pressure or feel the lows that I would have back then. I just didn’t enjoy it.”

Despite making his Munster debut not long after he left St Munchin’s College and featuring for the British and Irish Lions at just 21, Earls admitted that even then his lack of self-belief was causing harm.

“I suppose teams started figuring me out and the pressure piles on. I struggled to deal with that and went down a rabbit hole of negative thinking,” he admitted.

“I didn’t want to play anymore. Semi-finals, finals, even World Cups. I’d have massive highs and lows which I didn’t know how to handle.

“The World Cup in 2015, the pressure, how big it was… One of the worst days of my rugby career. The negative thinking and then went out onto the field and dropped a silly ball that I could have been in for a try. I derailed myself. Didn’t have control of my mind. I was an emotional wreck by how much anxiety I had that day.”

After he sought help at that point, he stated, “The diagnosis was a form of bi-polar. I spent every minute of every day trying to figure out how I can deal with it.

“I was all over it this year, my mental health, I had no anxiety, everything was leading into this game. I could finally bring my girls around a pitch with a trophy, which I had promised them for years.”

Earls made a pleasing admission that he has been off medication for over a year now and is feeling the best ever when going into a World Cup.

“You still get poor days but I’ve gone to lengths to figure myself out, which I am very content with now,” he said, adding that without his diagnosis, “I don’t think I would be here today.”

He does admit however that this World Cup could signal the end of his playing days.

“Could be. Could be. My contract is up in November. I have had no chats with anyone else about staying on but if we do get to the final, we could have six weeks left.”

The interview can be watched here:

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