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Earls Edges Closer To 100

15th January 2015 By Munster Rugby

Should he be included in Anthony Foley’s matchday squad to face Saracens this weekend, Keith Earls will be in line to make his 100th appearance for the province.

Should he be included in Anthony Foley’s matchday squad to face Saracens this weekend, Keith Earls will be in line to make his 100th appearance for the province.

Keith’s next appearance for Munster will see him become the seventh player of the current squad to reach the 100 cap milestone for the province, alongside Donncha O'Callaghan, Paul O'Connell, Denis Hurley, Donnacha Ryan, Damien Varley and recent addition Billy Holland.

A graduate of the Munster Rugby Academy, the Moyross native was earmarked as one to watch from Schools level. There he represented St Munchin’s and won a Senior Cup medal with the school in 2006.

During that time he also represented Ireland Schools and went on to feature for the Ireland U20 Grand Slam winning side in 2007. Following a stint at Garryowen, Keith then followed in the footsteps of his father (former Munster player Ger Earls) and moved to Young Munster.

Since making his first appearance for Munster as a replacement against Ospreys at The Liberty Stadium in 2007 (in the then Magners League), Keith has gone on to become an integral part of the Munster and Irish set-up, plying his trade on occasion at fullback, but primarily in the centre or on the wing.

With deceptive feet and lightening pace, the jet-heeled winger soon made a name for himself and a palpable sense of anticipation would surge through Munster fans and management whenever he touched the ball. Such was the impression he made that Declan Kidney included him on the bench for the victorious 2008 Heineken Cup final against Toulouse despite Keith not playing in the competition previously.

2008/09 would become a breakthrough season for Keith on a number of different fronts. He became a regular in the Munster line-up – scoring a hat-trick of tries against Newport-Gewnt Dragons in the Magners League – and went on to make his first Heineken Cup appearance against Montauban at Thomond Park the following October.

Soon after the proud Limerick-man would earn his fist Irish cap just a stone’s throw from where he grew up in Moyross – scoring a try against Canada in Thomond Park – and he finished up the season winning both, a Magners League title with Munster, and inclusion in Ian McGeechan’s 2009 British & Irish Lions squad to tour South Africa. The youngest member of the squad, he made his Lions’ debut against a Royal XV in Rustenberg.

In subsequent years, he played his part in Munster’s 2010 victory over Australia at Thomond Park, helped Munster to victory in the 2011 Magners League Grand Final – scoring a try against Leinster – and was a member of the 2011 Ireland World Cup squad that reached the quarter-final in New Zealand. His total of five tries made him Ireland's top try scorer at the tournament.

To date, the 27 year old has amassed 99 provincial caps and 39 Irish caps, a tally that would be higher were it not for a number of injuries curtailing his involvement throughout the seasons.

Keith continues to excite the rugby faithful and news of his recent return from injury was greatly welcomed on both provincial and national fronts.

Having successfully rehabbed a knee injury sustained at an Ireland training camp during pre-season, he played his first competitive action of the season in Munster’s PRO12 victory over Zebre last weekend and will now hope to stake a claim for inclusion in Anthony Foley’s sides to face Saracens and Sale Sharks in the upcoming European Champions Cup clashes.

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