Keith Earls has a “burning desire” to journey to the fourth World Cup of his profession after celebrating his a hundredth Ireland cap with a surprising strive on an emotional outing towards England.
Munster wing Earls led out his nation alongside his three daughters on Saturday night in Dublin earlier than marking the event in model by coming off the bench to seal a 29-10 victory with an excellent diving end.
The 35-year-old obtained a number of touching tributes forward of the landmark look on the Aviva Stadium, whereas his household have been invited into camp on Thursday.
Earls went a 12 months with out worldwide motion attributable to damage points earlier than lining up towards Italy at the beginning of the month however insists he didn’t return solely on sentimental grounds as he eyes a spot on the aircraft to France.
“That’s the reason I’m here, that’s the reason I came back for pre-season, that’s the reason I’m doing everything possible to stay fit,” he stated of World Cup choice.
“I have that burning desire to give myself the best chance of going to the World Cup and I tell you one thing I’d hate to be the coaches trying to pick their 33-man squad. It’s going to be tough.”
Andy Farrell is because of cut back his squad by 5 to a last 33 following subsequent weekend’s conflict with Samoa in Bayonne.
His Six Nations champions registered a twelfth consecutive win by comfortably dispatching Steve Borthwick’s facet.
The unassuming Earls, who added to scores from Bundee Aki, Garry Ringrose, James Lowe and Mack Hansen along with his thirty sixth Ireland strive, felt somewhat uncomfortable within the highlight and feared being left embarrassed as an unused substitute following the large construct up.
“I was saying to the lads, it was probably the worst week of my life with all the attention around the 100th cap,” he stated.
“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done on Thursday trying to keep the tears out of my eyes around all of the lads.
“But I think I managed to do it, so that was grand.
“I’m delighted everything worked out perfectly and there’s not a better bunch of lads to do it with.
“It was hell sitting on the bench. It was nerve-wracking, thinking: ‘will he put me on? This will be very embarrassing after everything I’ve gone through’.”
In addition to receiving video messages from the likes of Ireland nice Brian O’Driscoll and former coaches Declan Kidney and Joe Schmidt, Earls was introduced along with his milestone cap by head coach Farrell, whereas captain Johnny Sexton and forwards coach Paul O’Connell gave speeches.
A extra offbeat homage got here from team-mate Hansen, who shaved the initials KE and the quantity 100 into an attention grabbing inexperienced haircut earlier than claiming the person of the match award towards England.
“He actually came in with just his hair dyed green and then he got this idea he wanted to cut a shamrock into the side of his head,” stated Earls.
“That kind of went a bit pear-shaped and then he was like, ‘let’s get KE 100 into my head’.
“I was sitting in the team room and I was like, I want no part in this and walked away and then Craig (Casey) sent me a picture and what a horrendous job they had done on it.
“That man (Hansen), he’s such a unique character in rugby.
“When you can act like that and cut your hair like that and then go out and perform like that, you just have to leave him be.”