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Dublin: 8 °C Saturday 17 November, 2018

'One of the older fellas,' but Test match buzz still takes hold of Keith Earls

Approaching nine years since his debut, the Munster wing is being kept on his toes by the young blood in Joe Schmidt’s squad.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

JUST A MONTH into his 30s, Keith Earls understandably calls it ‘bizarre’ when he looks at the age profile of Ireland’s squad and realises he’s firmly in the category marked old heads.

The Munster wing put down some stellar form during Ireland’s summer tour of the US and Japan and has barely eased off the pedal in the early weeks of the new season.

Just as well, because even in the absence of Simon Zebo there is talent and pace in the form of Darren Sweetnam, Jacob Stockdale and Adam Byrne to keep complacency far from his door.

“It’s where I am in my career, I’m the older fella, it’s quite bizarre. The young fellas are keeping us on our toes. Rather than us asking all the questions they are coming to us and asking questions on bits of detail.”

Keith Earls Keith Earls debuting against Canada in 2008. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

That said, weeks like this tend to give Earls the same fire in the belly and bouts of nerves that he has felt since making his Test debut (almost exactly) nine years ago. Running out for a 63rd cap against South Africa this weekend, Earls will be a much more complete player, but no less enthusiastic.

“Oh yeah! Any time you get called into an Irish squad or to play for Ireland, it’s brilliant.

“I came into it when I was a young lad, I’m in the 60s with caps now and you still get excited with matchweek and you still get nervous about whether you get selected. It’s a brilliant time and hopefully I’ll get another opportunity.”

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Sean Farrell

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