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I should have come off earlier, admits Earls

Keith Earls
Keith Earls

By Cian Tracey

As soon as Maro Itoje clattered into him, Keith Earls knew he had done damage to his hip.

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What may come as a surprise, however, is that the incident in question occurred from the opening kick-off and not after 18 minutes when Itoje should have been shown yellow for his questionable challenge on the winger.

The injury wasn't bad enough for Earls  to immediately be subbed off but he has been around the block enough times to realise that he wasn't operating at full fitness.

"It was actually the first kick-off, I think it was Itoje twice, the first kick-off and then the one in the air," Earls explained. "It was a collision. I don't know what he thought of it, whether he got his timing wrong or whatever, I had a look back at it and it does look bad but that's not for me to say.

"It was just a big collision, he is a big man and I think if it had been anyone smaller I would have been alright. It was frustrating. Everything shut down around my hip and it was sore to run because it swelled out. They usually loosen but it didn't.

"I suppose it was the first time I stayed on injured and tried to run it off because I'm usually quite good at knowing my body and when to come off, so from that aspect I probably should have come off earlier.

"Half-time was probably the worst thing to happen because you're sitting down for 10 or 15 minutes and it just got a bit sore.

"I went to do a run indoors just to test it and it was too sore so the physio and doctor called it. I trained today so it's just a normal week for me.

"I came out here (team hotel) early on Sunday, sent the family home early so I could ice it non-stop. Those are the sacrifices you make."

Many people felt that England targeted Earls, especially because he was by some distance the most experienced player in Ireland's back-three.

"I'm not sure, there was a lot of pressure down my way with kicking," the Moyross man maintained. "I don't know, I suppose it worked for them anyway."

Earls got caught out for Jonny May's try and, while he didn't use the injury as an excuse, he put his hands up for what was a bad read on Owen Farrell's bullet-like pass to Elliot Daly.

"It was 100% my fault," he admitted. "I got my numbers wrong on the edge. I didn't see Daly out there, I thought it was May. I was going to go for the intercept but Farrell's pass is one of the best in the game and it beat me."

Earls has recovered from his knock and is in line to start in Murrayfield for a game that, simply put, is a must-win.

"We're not a bad team overnight. We know there is another massive challenge ahead. We can't be off the mark like we were at the weekend," he added.

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