Ireland are capable of “doing special things when switched on” | Keith Earls

As the defending World Champions, the Springboks await down the track, Earls and co are taking it one game at a time.

Ireland travel to Bordeaux this Saturday to face Tonga in the 2023 Rugby World Cup having opened their campaign with a twelve try dismantling of Romania last time out.

Tonga didn’t feature on the opening weekend but will kick off their campaign against the #1 ranked side in the world.

Ireland will be favoured for the contest but Irish centurion Keith Earls isn’t taking the result for granted against a side that contains the likes of Malakai Fekitoa and Charles Piutau.

“It’s like all the island teams, it’s going to be a really physical contest, we’re going to have to be switched on in defence, some really incredibly good athletes, I’ve obviously played with Mala (Fekitoa) for a season in Munster, we know we have to be on it or else we’ll get punished.”

Ireland’s response to an early try conceded against Romania was flawless where they were arguably the standout side from the first round.

9 September 2023; Keith Earls of Ireland warms up before the 2023 Rugby World Cup Pool B match between Ireland and Romania at Stade de Bordeaux in Bordeaux, France. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

And Earls says the team are aware of how good they can be when “switched on.’ Yet, as the defending World Champions, the Springboks await down the track, Earls and co are taking it one game at a time.

“We know when we’re on it and we’re switched on and when we play our game plan, we know we’re well capable of competing and doing special things.

“I know it’s a cliche, we won’t be looking past Saturday, obviously we’ve touched on it, something we are confident in our ability, we’ll be looking to go deep if we reach our standards.”

Earls was joined by Mick Kearney for press conference duties and he provided a positive update on Jack Conan’s return from injury.

“Very good training session today, everyone came through that really well, Jack was out running, while Saturday will come a little bit early for him, I think the signs are really positive in terms of being able to play fully next week and hopefully he’ll be available to face South Africa.”

In recent times, the Cranberries’ classic ‘Zombie’ has been adapted by the Munster and Irish faithful. With the song also associated with the all-conquering Limerick hurling team, Earls is happy to hear it when signifying victory for his home county and Ireland.

“It reminds us of good times, whether it’s Limerick winning All-Ireland’s, it’s becoming a real Irish song instead of a Limerick song.

“I think the Limerick boys definitely set the standard with it. I suppose we’re all jumping on ship now thankfully because we’re winning as well.”

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Ireland play Tonga on Saturday at 8pm Irish Time in their second outing of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

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