Conor Murray, Peter O’Mahony & Johnny Sexton lead the praise for “incredible” Keith Earls on the eve of his 100th cap

When he enters the field of play Earls will become just the ninth man to have played a century of games in the green jersey.

As Ireland face England on Saturday in the build up to the Rugby World Cup, all focus will be on Keith Earls, who is set to earn his 100th cap for Ireland.

Named amongst the replacements, it is almost certain to Moyross man will be called upon, and when he enters the field of play Earls will become just the ninth man to have played a century of games in the green jersey.

Ahead of the landmark day, some of his international teammates, including Limerick counterpart, centurion and close friend Conor Murray, have been full of praise for the winger.

“What a man!

“Going into school looking up to him he was a superstar in schools rugby when I came into Munchins. Blessed to be able to call him a really good friend. Rooming with him for the last ten odd years I’ve seen the crazy sides to Keith Earls. What it means to him and his family, he’s been close to so many milestones, so many big victories and he’s just missed out. I know this one is a really popular landmark for him and everyone in the squad is delighted for him.”

“Who he is around the squad, how much he gives to everyone around him. He looks after himself really well but he really tries to make everyone in the squad better, he’s really generous with his time. Loads of things you can say about him, just a really good fella, he deserves this big day out, we’re all delighted for him.”

Conor Murray
2019 Rugby World Cup Pool A, Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium, Fukuoka Prefecture, Fukuoka City 12/10/2019 Ireland vs Samoa Ireland’s Keith Earls and Conor Murray celebrate after the game Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Murray, who also hails from Limerick, picked up his 100th cap back in November, and knows all about the incredible feeling Earls will get in front of a home crowd on Saturday.

The scrum-half is one of three active plyers to have reached the century landmark, alongside Cian Healy and Johnny Sexton.

Sexton, who recently turned 38, couldn’t speak highly enough of what he described as “an incredibly good rugby player,” saying Earls “fully deserves this milestone.”

“Myself and Earlsy go way back, I met him when I was 21, he was 19, straight away you could tell what a good lad he was. Humble, but also what an incredibly good rugby player he was. Loved playing with him since day one, I’ve had some great memories over the years with him.”

“How popular he is with everybody he’s ever played with sums him up, you don’t always get that. There’s guys that do a lot in their career but they’re not as popular as him. He’s won three championships, Grand Slam, he fully deserves this milestone.”

Johnny Sexton
13 November 2021; Jonathan Sexton of Ireland during the Autumn Nations Series match between Ireland and New Zealand at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Peter O’Mahony, who is only six games off the landmark himself, was emotional when speaking on Earls, who he called a “huge inspiration.”

The pair have been Munster teammates since 2010, and represented Ireland together for over a decade, and O’Mahony claims the occasion will be “hugely special.”

“It’s going to be hugely special, we’ve been alongside each other for a long time now, been through a lot of ups and downs. I have to say I got a little bit emotional when I saw his name up there, he’s put a huge amount into the game, the province, the country. He has sacrificed a huge amount of his time, the normal side of life.”

“You see the family man that he is, he’s a huge inspiration for me as a dad, you see the way he interacts with his kids, hugely proud of where he comes from. It’s incredible to have played alongside him for this length of time.”

“Big occasion for his family as well, they’ve been through a huge amount of his ups and downs as well. I’m sure Adele and the girls, and his mum and dad will all be very proud of him, like we are.”

Peter O’Mahony

An incredible career that has spanned 16 years, Earls looks set to be rewarded for it all this Saturday.

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