“That’s bravery, that’s honesty and we put that in the highest regards” | Johann Van Graan praises Earls for speaking out about mental health struggles

Munster Rugby Head Coach Johann Van Graan ‘proud’ of Keith Earls’ honesty when opening up about mental health issues.

Munster and Irish rugby winger Keith Earls was the guest of honour at RTÉ’s Late Late Show last Friday night. During the rare interview, Earls revealed his long time struggle with mental health issues and his diagnosis of Bipolar 2 disorder.

In Earls’ interview with Ryan Tubridy on Friday’s Late Late Show, he gave a brutally honest account of the challenges faced by an international level rugby player, not only on the pitch, but at home also.

Speaking about Earls’ honesty on the RTE, Munster Head Coach Johann van Graan praised the winger,

“Keith Earls is a fantastic man, Munster man through and through. I remember when I came to Munster initially, he was one of the first guys that I talked about Munster rugby to and what it means to play for Munster and come from Limerick.”

Munster Head Coach Johann Van Graan
Guinness PRO14, Kingspan Stadium, Belfast 3/1/2020 Ulster vs Munster Munster’s Keith Earls dejected after the game Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

In the interview, Earls also outlined the strain his mental state and his not yet diagnosed disorder had on his personal life, namely his relationship with his with his wife and children. Earls also revealed the presence of ‘Hank’ a negative alternate persona which is a side to Earls prone to severe depression.

“Obviously the things he shared were of a very private nature and the way that he said it on Friday evening made such a big difference not only to ourselves but I’m sure to a lot of people on the outside. For someone to be that vulnerable and that honest, I believe he will change a lot of peoples lives because of that.”

Van Graan added

With Earls’ involvement at Munster far deeper than just his contributions on the pitch, Van Graan sights the contribution Earls make’s to the culture of the club. The Moyross native made his debut for Munster in 2007 at just 19 years of age, since then Earls’ upbringing and achievements stand as a central example of the both the clubs roots and values.

I think the main thing is that Earls is always himself when he’s in the HPC, he’s such a big part of Munster rugby and what we’ve been doing in the past and we’re just very glad he’s apart of our group and we’re very proud of him as a rugby player, as a man, as a friend, as a husband and as a father. That’s bravery, that’s honesty and we put that in the highest regard at Munster rugby.”

Now with a newfound sense of peace, the winger can hopefully refocus on the remainder of this already stellar career. The 34 year old is Ireland’s joint second highest try scorer over 94 caps, if he continues his impressive form from last years Six Nations Championship he will undoubtedly achieve the sole record as Irelands second highest try scorer in addition to 100+ test caps.

Earls is likely to return to action this weekend when Munster face Ospreys at Liberty Stadium in the fifth round of the URC on Saturday October 23rd, with kick-off at 7:35pm.

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