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'I believe it will change a lot of people's lives because of that'

Munster boss Johann van Graan has praised Keith Earls for his bravery.

Earls in action last weekend against Connacht.
Earls in action last weekend against Connacht.

MUNSTER HEAD COACH Johann van Graan has praised Keith Earls for his honesty and bravery in speaking about his mental health struggles.

Ireland and Munster player Earls was on The Late Late Show on RTÉ last week, when he revealed he had been diagnosed with bipolar II.

Earls was speaking as he promoted his new autobiography – Fight Or Flight: My Life, My Choices – and van Graan has lauded his player’s inspirational approach.

“Keith Earls is a fantastic man, a Munster man through and through,” said van Graan today.

“I remember when I came to Munster initially, he was one of the first guys I talked to about Munster rugby and what it means to play for Munster and come from Limerick.

“Obviously, the things he shared were of a very private nature and the way he said it on Friday evening made such a big difference, not only to ourselves but I’m sure to a lot of people on the outside. For somebody to be that vulnerable and that honest, I believe it will change a lot of people’s lives because of that.

“The main thing is Earlsie is just himself when he’s in the HPC. He’s such a big part of Munster rugby and what we’ve been doing in the past. I’m very glad that he’s part of our group and very proud of him as a rugby player, as a man, as a friend, as a husband, and as a father.

“That’s bravery, that’s honesty, and we put that in the highest regard at Munster rugby.”

Meanwhile, van Graan welcomed the return of centre Damian de Allende to Munster after a lengthy stint of international duty with the Springboks.

The 29-year-old was a key man for the South Africans during the recent Rugby Championship but has now returned to the province and is back in squad training.

It remains to be seen if de Allende features in this weekend’s United Rugby Championship visit to the Ospreys before he departs again to link up with the Springboks for their November Test series, although the midfielders has had a very heavy workload in recent months.

“It’s great to have him back,” said Munster boss van Graan today. “Picked him up at the airport on Sunday afternoon. He’s had a good two-week break and it’s great to have him back in Limerick at the HPC.

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“He’s a phenomenal player for us and we’re really looking forward to seeing him train.”

Conor Murray could make his first appearance of the season this weekend having had his return delayed by involvement with the Lions during the summer.

“Conor has been training with the group, the same as Damian, and we will make our decisions later in the week on whether we will select them,” said van Graan.

“But Conor is looking really well and refreshed and training well.”

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Murray Kinsella

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