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Dublin: 3°C Sunday 28 February 2021

Larkham tips Keith Earls to make Twickenham impact

Veteran wing has fought his way back into the Ireland starting XV after a stop-start 2020.

Earls starts for Ireland against England tomorrow.
Earls starts for Ireland against England tomorrow.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

STEVE LARKHAM HAS backed Keith Earls to remind everyone – not least Andy Farrell – of his class at Twickenham tomorrow.

After suffering a back injury post lockdown, Earls’ momentum was checked. Yet he has fought back to fitness and also back into the Ireland set-up. Tomorrow will be his first international start since last year’s World Cup, after three substitute appearances.

“Earlsy has worked really hard to get back into that team,” said Larkham, the Munster senior coach.

“It is a massive test obviously, a big challenge for him but I don’t think there is anyone more capable of turning in a good performance. 

“Keith is well renowned. When he came over to Australia, people were talking about him – he is known all around the world for being able to play quality rugby not just good rugby. He has been an outstanding player for a very long time.

“He is unbelievably powerful, he blows me away just watching him train, how quick and explosive he is.

“He has got really good skills, that is the biggest thing that surprised me. Yes he plays on the wing but he has the skills of a fifth-eight or a half-back, his kicking, passing and catching, he is an extremely balanced player. I can understand why he has been in the team so long and why he been such a positive performer over these years.”

Even though he is due to turn 36 midway through the 2023 World Cup, Earls remains keen on signing off his career at the highest level.

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“It is really up to Earlsy whether he wants to do that or not,” Larkham said. “There are a lot of positives from a coaching perspective, players want to play with him and from a coaching perspective we have a lot of confidence in him and I think it will come down to how he copes with the load. 2023 is still a fair way away right so how he copes with the load of the next few years and whether he still has the motivation.”

The Munster coach also gave a positive report on Joey Carbery’s progress from his ankle injury.

“Joey is going well, we haven’t got an end (date for when he will return to play). With Joey he was out there this morning and he was doing his own rehab and doing a bit of kicking. 

“So we have seen, not just with Joey’s injury, but with a number of injuries you have a couple of good weeks and a couple of bad weeks so we are not getting ahead of ourselves with Joey.

“I guess the only pleasing thing with Joey is that it is improving because there was a period when it wasn’t improving so you could say that was a positive but we really won’t know for a couple of months.”

About the author:

Garry Doyle

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