Earls getting ready for new Munster season

Munster players Keith Earls, Paul O'Connell and Conor Murray at the launch of the new jersey last week
KEITH Earls is confident Munster will be more successful at executing Rob Penney’s game plan this season.

KEITH Earls is confident Munster will be more successful at executing Rob Penney’s game plan this season.

Earls, who will miss the start of the new season as he recovers from a shoulder injury, believes the Munster players now have a better understanding of Penney’s philosophy on how he wants the game to be played.

Munster face Gloucester in a friendly fixture at Thomond Park this Saturday at 5pm.

Earls said: “This season should be a lot better, hopefully, second season with the new game plan. I am not saying it was an excuse, but I think we understand it a lot more now.

“We broke it (game plan) down during the summer and are getting back to our basics doing really well. Your basics do need to be good with the game plan we have, even the simple passes.”

Twenty five-year-old Earls admits last season was a frustrating one for him, due to a number of niggling injuries. The Limerickman made just 10 appearances for Munster last season.

Earls said: “I hope last season has made me mentally tougher. I am excited by the prospect of playing rugby again. It is the longest I have been out of the game – four months or maybe a bit longer since the Clermont game. I am itching to get back.

“I think I will be back for Rabo Rounds two, three or four. We are not going to rush it back. We did rush it back a small bit for the (Heineken Cup) semi-final and that was worse case scenario after that. Fingers crossed.”

Despite being in his mid-20s Earls is set to be one of the oldest members of the Munster backline next season. But he insists the added responsibility that comes with being one of the senior members of the back division is something he enjoys.

“It is a bit ridiculous now at the moment when you look at the age profile in the dressing room,” Earls laughed.

“JJ Hanrahan only had his 21st birthday party last week. I have been invited to a lot of weddings and that is a bad sign along with being 25 and one of the oldest in the backline as well.

“No, it’s good. It takes me out of my comfort zone a bit – some of the lads asking me questions. It makes me do that extra bit of work too.”