Limerick’s Keith Earls set to become only ninth Irishman to win 100 caps

The man from Moyross made his maiden international appearance in 2008, scoring a try with his first touch of the ball.

A living legend, Limerick native Keith Earls turns 36 in a matter of months, and has had a decorated career that has spanned over 16 years thus far.

This weekend Earls is likely to make history as he earns a 100th cap in the green jersey, which would make him only the ninth Irish man to reach the milestone. He will also become the fourth Limerick man to make it to the century of caps with a total of 175 points amassed thus far.

It will be a fitting reward for an incredible career for the Moyross native.

27 May 2023; Keith Earls of Munster is carried by teammates Malakai Fekitoa, left, and Antoine Frisch as they celebrate with the trophy afterthe United Rugby Championship Final match between DHL Stormers and Munster at DHL Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa. Photo by Nic Bothma/Sportsfile

But as he closes in on cap number #100 for his country, he admits every time he stepped on the field the last couple of years “could be the last time.”

As Andy Farrell prepares to hand Earls the landmark cap this weekend against England, Earls, speaking to OffTheBall, cites his coach as a driving force behind his improved fitness, claiming he’s “grateful to have a great relationship” with the head coach

“Especially with the talent coming through, and the way some of the lads are playing as well, my injury history last year. I just kept the head down, I’m grateful to have a great relationship with Andy, great trust with Andy, we’ll always be honest with each other. I genuinely have had my best pre season since I’ve been a professional rugby player this year, we’ve got everything spot on between all the training, it’s been really enjoyable.”

Should he appear this weekend, Earls would become the ninth player to record 100 appearances for Ireland, joining Cian Healy, Johnny Sexton, and Conor Murray as the only active Irish centurions.

Murray received his 100th cap just last November, and Earls is excited at the prospect of replicating the achievement of his fellow Limerick native in front of a home crowd.

“It would go through your head when you’re younger, but I suppose the last couple of years I was genuinely thinking every time I stepped onto the field could be the last time so it’s great if it does happen, I’d be extremely proud and privileged to join a unique group.”

NatWest 6 Nations Championship Round 5, Twickenham, London, England 17/3/2018 England vs Ireland Ireland’s Keith Earls and Conor Murray celebrate winning Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Farrell’s men head into next month’s Rugby World Cup as the third favourites, priced behind New Zealand and France at 9/2.

Ireland have been in similar positions heading to the RWC before but having claimed the Grand Slam earlier this year, there has been no better opportunity for the men in green to go beyond the quarter-finals for the first time ever.

Having represented his country for almost two decades, Earls has seen plenty of highs and lows, but is delighted to be involved in the current group.

Earls says it is hard to pick his favourite memory in the green jersey, and says he is “just really enjoying the journey.”

“We’ve had many moments the last couple years, it’s hard to pick a best one for different reasons. I’m just really enjoying the journey the last couple of years, where this team has gone and where Munster have gone in the last year, just trying to enjoy the journey and each day now.”

10 November 2021; Keith Earls during Ireland rugby squad training at Carton House in Maynooth, Kildare. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

And despite going through struggles on and off the field in recent years, coaches have stood by him, and included him in squads, which he says gives him “great confidence.”

“It’s great, there’s that bit of a pressure as well because you want to repay them but Andy is just big on allowing us to be ourselves and not to blow things up too much, not to try and do anything special. Just be yourself and if you are special you’re special. It gives you great confidence, especially as an old winger.”

As the days close in to cap 100, it is a milestone that commemorates a 16 year career that isn’t over just yet.

Watch the interview with Earls courtesy of OffTheBall below.

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