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Catching Up With Keith Earls

2nd February 2009 By Munster Rugby

Catching Up With Keith Earls

Keith Earls made his international debut against Canada back in November, impressing with a try in Thomond Park. He is now hoping to get his chance to feature in Ireland’s 6 Nations Campaign which kicks off this weekend.

Munster Rugby’s Pat Geraghty recently sat down with Keith and asked him about life in the Irish camp and how he copes with life as a professional rugby player.

You’ve played fullback, wing and in the centre for Munster during the season.  What would your ideal position be playing for Ireland?

“I suppose I don’t mind now really.  I’d play prop for my country now at the moment.   Fullback, centre, wing, there’s small differences but I’d be happy to play anywhere.”

When the squad was announced you were obviously delighted to be in it, but were you surprised?

“I was delighted… I was in the match 22 for the Autumn Internationals and I then I felt that I had a small dip in form after that so I didn’t know whether I would be in the squad or not.”

How did you actually get the news that you were involved?

“I got an email from Paul McNaughton so I found out then.”

And how was everyone at home, no doubt very proud of you?

“They’re all thrilled now, really happy.”

What’s it like for you now in Limerick, is it harder for you to walk around the place without being stopped?

“No, it’s grand, it’s not too bad, you’re just recognised a bit more but I just get on with life.  You get a few people asking for autographs but it’s nothing too bad, I enjoy it.”

Going into this 6 Nations now what’s your goal, what do you hope to focus on?

“I just have to train hard and listen to Declan and do what the coaches tell us and do enough to hopefully give myself a shout of getting into the match 15 or 22.”

What’s it like being in the company of the likes of the Brian O’Driscoll’s of this world?

“It’s an absolute dream come true.  I couldn’t imagine playing with Brian O’Driscoll when I was growing up, he was an absolute star, but I really enjoy it, it’s a good feeling.”

In terms of old rivalries, Munster and Leinster particularly, what’s the camaraderie like when you’re all together?

“It’s good… it’s the same as  Munster really.  Not many outside the squad would see it but there’s always good craic there, with the lads and the slagging and that stuff. It’s good.”

Being a professional sportsman is obviously very difficult because there’s things other lads can do that you can’t. Does it ever get to a stage where you don’t enjoy this?

“No, it’s grand, I enjoy it… It’s the career I chose so there are some sacrifices I have to make, but there isn’t much, it’s good.  Like when it’s coming up to tours and when you’re away from home but it’s all a part of the game.”

In terms of sacrifices again, when your friends are hitting the town at the weekend do you sometimes say to yourself, “I wish I could head out with them”?

“Sometimes I get to go out with the lads like, but I wouldn’t have a few pints, I wouldn’t be a big drinker anyway, I wouldn’t have interest in it but I still get away and out a lot.”

What sort of interests do you have outside of rugby, how do you wind down?

“I like to chill out at home and throw a few darts maybe with my father or take my sister swimming or something like that.”

And when you’re away with the International squad who would you tend to be around most, is it the Munster lads or some of the lads you would have come up playing underage with?

“No, I suppose I’d hang around a bit with Cian Healy and Luke Fitzgerald, I seem to be rooming with Luke now and I’ve played with both himself and Cian in underage rugby and I’ve played with Johnny Sexton in the A team, so there’s a good mix there.”

Is it easy to let go of these friendships when you leave the International set up and come up against each other in the provinces?

“Ya you just have to switch off for those 80 minutes, it’s a game of rugby and they want to win and you want to win, and it’s whoever wants it the most at the end of the day.”

Finally Keith, hopes for the future?

“To be honest, I’m just concentrating on being a regular with Munster and hopefully establish myself within the Irish team, I haven’t thought any further than that.”

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