KEITH Earls has revealed his determination to tie down a starting place at outside centre for Munster under new head coach Rob Penney.
Twenty four-year-old Earls has played on the wing, at full-back and in the centre through his career to date, but the Limerick man has outlined his intention to make Penney aware of his preference for playing in the number 13 shirt when the Kiwi arrives at Munster this summer.
Munster’s options at 13 will also be bolstered for next season by the arrival of Cardiff Blues and former All-Black Casey Laulala, who won an NPC title under Penney’s guidance at the Crusaders in 2009.
Keith Earls said: “The first day Rob comes, I will be going straight into him and telling him I want to play 13. I don’t want to play on the wing any more. It’s not my position. I don’t enjoy it. I want to improve as a 13. I don’t want to keep mixing and matching.
“With Ireland’s tour of New Zealand, I need to see if I’m selected to travel first. I will deal with that if it comes, if Deccie (Kidney) needs me to play on the wing, but I will let my feelings known that I don’t feel comfortable on the wing any more.
“I want to be a centre. I played in the centre all season and I’m enjoying it. I am getting better defensively, especially. I am putting in more tackles in a game and am getting a lot more confident. On the wing, I don’t have great confidence.
“I have been mixing and matching over the years. It is tough to nail down a position because you have certain things in your head when you are playing on the wing and in the centre it is different. I want to be a centre and I want to be the best centre in the world.
“I want to play there as much to try and learn everything I can about it. I have performed ok in the centre this season and I know there is a lot more there. I performed as a centre in the past when I wasn’t fit, so hopefully when I get fit I can explode onto the scene and get a good run at it.”
Earls is set to feature for Munster this Friday night when they face the Ospreys in the semi-final of the RaboDirect PRO12 at the Liberty Stadium.
He said: “I am sick of playing against the Ospreys in big games! We have had them in the last couple of seasons. We know a lot about each other and that is why it is a hard game.”