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'It was 100% my fault'

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'It was 100% my fault' - Ireland star ready to bounce back from England error

Ireland wing Kieth Earls isn’t making any injury excuses for himself in the wake of his side’s 32-20 defeat to England in their Six Nations opener in Dublin last weekend.

Earls was forced off the park at half-time after he was bombarded with English high balls throughout the first half, leaving him with a hip pointer injury.

The 73-Test veteran sustained the injury in the very first play of the match after being hammered into by English lock Maro Itoje while fielding Owen Farrell’s towering kick-off.

“Everything kind of shut down around my hip and it was sore to run because it swelled out,” he said. “They usually loosen out 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.”

Earls was again a victim of an Itoje tackle in the 18th minute, with the second rower illegally taking the Irishman out as the pair contested a high ball. Many believed it to be a yellow card-worthy offence, but not Earls.

“No, no, it was a collision,” said the 31-year-old. “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.”

Itoje’s collision came just five minutes after Earls was taken out late by openside flanker Tom Curry, the 20-year-old who was sent to the sin bin.

While justice was served for Curry’s tackle, both hits only aggravated Earls’ hip injury, but the wing has refused to use that as an excuse for letting in Jonny May’s opening try inside the first 90 seconds.

“It was obviously 100 per cent my fault,” he said. “I got my numbers wrong on the edge. I didn’t see [Elliot] Daly out there, I thought it was May.

“I was going to go for the intercept but obviously Farrell’s pass is one of the best in the game and it beat me.

“I should definitely have just tucked if I had taken a look up. I should have tucked in with Conor [Murray].”

A double skip pass from Farrell was enough to evade the defensive threats posed by Murray and Earls, and the latter said he regrets his decision to rush out of line.

“I went off on my own rather than just taking a feel for the game. If I got the intercept it would have been a different story but I made a mistake.”

Earls has a chance to redeem himself this weekend, when Ireland travel to Edinburgh to face Scotland at Murrayfield.

He trained fully with the side yesterday, and looks set to be fit for what is set to be a mammoth tussle between the two Celtic nations.

An improvement on his decision-making will be a key factor in determining Ireland’s success in this weekend’s upcoming match, Earls said.

“It’s become massive now as wingers. We’re trying to read body language, we’re trying to close hard, trying to stay back, it’s just all becoming a feel.

“It’s not black and white anymore that I’m going to stay back, I’m a winger. We play high as a team so I’m going to stay up.

“We’re just getting a feel, about who’s inside us and a lot is put on us but it puts us under pressure to make good decisions.

“A lot of the time we make good decisions and we can shut down a team but I didn’t make a good decision at the weekend and it can go completely against you.”

Joe Schmidt post-match press conference:

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'It was 100% my fault' - Ireland star ready to bounce back from England error