Andy Farrell reveals important conversation he had with Keith Earls

Stick at it.

Andy Farrell named his final 33-man Ireland squad for the Rugby World Cup yesterday, as preparations continue for France 2023.

Leinster prop Cian Healy was the biggest name to miss out after he picked up a calf injury in the win against Samoa that prevented him from being selected in the squad, with Munster’s Jeremy Loughman taking his spot.

Elsewhere, Keith Earls made the cut, just a few short weeks after he earned his 100th cap against England as he continues his resurgence in a green jersey.

And Andy Farrell has revealed that things could have been a lot different for the Limerick man had the two not had a very important conversation 18 months ago…

“Keith Earls, I had a conversation 18 months ago to try to stop him from retiring,” Farrell said.

“He’s certainly come through the other side.

“He’s been outstanding over the last nine weeks as regards giving to the squad, his whole self, his experience et cetera, but at the same time being as fit and excited as I’ve ever seen him. You go from one extreme to the other.”

Farrell also noted that Earls’ versatility will also be a big help in France.

“The balance of the squad, for you guys, rightly so, you’d probably look at the squad and say these guys are competing against different types of personnel than the reality, really,” Farrell explained.

“The balance of the squad for such a small group that goes to the World Cup, versatility within that is pretty important. The likes of Keith and Jimmy O’Brien come into that category.

“As a group of 42/43 players that’s been together for nine weeks over the summer, we don’t just grow as rugby players or as a rugby team, we grow socially as well. It’s always tough to drop anyone out of that type of squad.

“When you look at what we normally do when we pick a squad for a Six Nations or a tour, we normally pick in the region of 38 players.

“It’s obvious that there’s quality, talented players missing out. It’s a dream of theirs to play in a World Cup, so it’s tough but at the same time we’ve got to do the right thing by the squad and pick a squad of 33, and make sure we get the right balance.”

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