Keith Earls On That Incredible Cross-Field Kick & The Euphoria Of Saturday’s Win

Like a rat in a corner.

While Johnny Sexton’s drop goal rightly grabbed all the headlines on Saturday, some of the incredible build-up play leading up to it, must not be overlooked.

One such play in particular was the daring cross-field kick by Sexton midway through, that was taken by Keith Earls. Had the kick and the jump and catch not been so good, Ireland would never have gotten in a position to win the game.

Keith Earls was asked about it at Carton House yesterday, and says Sexton’s kick was inch-perfect for him.

“It was actually a perfect kick because it made me come in off the touchline,” Earls said.

“If it was any closer to the touchline, it probably could have been easier to knock me into touch. It wasn’t over my head, I was able to come at it at an angle.”

Looking back over the phases, you can clearly see Earls signalling for the kick for at least six or seven phases. Although he was careful enough to not scream for it and alert the French.

“It’s hard enough to communicate in because if you’re roaring and shouting then their winger looks up and sees you and they start fanning out,” Earls said

“So I suppose it’s a telepathic thing with all 10s – you hold your width and if they see a hand out, it’s on.

“Sometimes there mightn’t be a hand out, I might just have to go off his body language if he sees the space.”

Earls says an excellent saying by Munster coach, and former Ireland international Felix Jones stuck with him as he waited out on his wing patiently.

“Felix [Jones] has a good saying in Munster for the lads out wide – ‘if you’re stuck out wide on your own you have to fight like a rat in a corner.’ That stuck out in my head as I was waiting for support to come,” says Earls.

“I suppose it all depends on the space, but I think especially if there’s only one or two fellas around me to try and make my way in towards them, especially at that time in the game as well.

“The height of the ball forced me to come in, which was good.”

In terms of the game itself, Earls says it’s his proudest moment in Irish Rugby to date.

“That game was definitely my proudest moment in Irish rugby for me in my playing career because I haven’t won a championship or anything like that,” says Earls.

“That was my first win in Paris and I suppose the way the game went, the last kick of the game, it was definitely my proudest moment, my biggest moment.”