Rob Kearney and Keith Earls fit for Ireland’s World Cup opener with Scotland

The pair have shrugged off injuries.

By Press Association Published: 18 September 2019 - 9.53am
Rugby Union


Andy Farrell has declared Rob Kearney and Keith Earls available for selection for Ireland’s World Cup opener against Scotland on Sunday.

Assistant coach Farrell said full-back Kearney and centre Earls “ran well” in Wednesday’s session after struggling with calf and thigh issues respectively.

“We’re pleased with how things have gone today,” said Farrell. “Rob and Keith Earls ran well and trained well.

“There’s a few protocols that they need to go to, so that’s what we need to adhere to with the medical staff. But they are very happy.

Ireland v France – Guinness Six Nations – Aviva Stadium
Munster centre Keith Earls, pictured, has been declared fit for Ireland (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

“They are available, so we’ve obviously another session to go on Friday. It’s Wednesday. The game’s on Sunday, so we’re building nicely.

“Everybody (barring Robbie Henshaw) is available for selection.”

Leinster centre Henshaw will definitely miss Sunday’s Pool A match due to his hamstring issue, but Ireland still hope he will be fit for the game against hosts Japan on September 28.

Farrell confirmed that Joey Carbery is fully fit, with the fly-half likely to take a seat on the bench against the Scots.

“Joey’s been training well since Monday, so we’re in a good spot,” said Farrell.

“The intensity, the bite that's in training is very significant, and there's a completely different feel”
- Andy Farrell

“Robbie won’t make this weekend, they are very happy with his progress but he will sit out this weekend and hopefully he will be available for next week. His progress has been great.”

Ireland’s clash with Scotland could well determine the entire outcome of Pool A, with the winners hoping they can push on and top the round-robin standings.

Former dual code international Farrell admitted Ireland have trained with added “bite” this week, as they sharpen up for their biggest match in some time.

“If you take for example this week, which is the week that matters, there’s certainly a feel that’s brewing of major importance to the squad,” said Farrell.

“The intensity, the bite that’s in training is very significant, and there’s a completely different feel. So I suppose that’s a culmination of what’s happened over the last couple of months.”

Ex-England playmaker and coach Farrell even threw himself into Ireland’s contact training on Monday, the 44-year-old mixing it with the Test squad.

Farrell insisted Ireland were so focused on Monday that little or no coaching was required – an ideal sign in the week of such a monumental match.

“Well on Monday, honestly, as coaches we didn’t need to be on the field, because of the ownership,” said Farrell.

“That’s what you want, them sorting things and themselves out. And that’s where we want to be. I actually did get involved in training on Monday, I’m still suffering from it!”

PA Graphics
(PA Graphics)

Ireland boast a clutch of senior and vastly experienced players heading into their last World Cup, but Farrell insisted no one will slip into a last chance saloon mindset.

“I always think that desperation is a disease really, because it makes you make bad decisions along the way,” said Farrell.

“And that’s what experience gives you, to make sure that it’s focused in the right way. That’s why I say cautiously that we’re building. We don’t want to reach boiling point on Wednesday or Friday.

“We’ve got experienced players, not just the older guys but you’ve got 24, 25 and 26-year-olds who are pretty experienced now as well, and they know what it takes to build through a week.”