Earls and Sweetnam in training for Munster
MUNSTER winger Darren Sweetnam has lavished praised on his provincial team mate Keith Earls, describing his current form with Ireland as ‘outrageous.’
Limerick man Earls bagged one of Ireland’s eight tries in their runaway bonus point victory over Italy in the NatWest 6 Nations Championship at the Aviva Stadium.
Earls has scored eight Test tries since the beginning of 2017, the most of any European player in that time.
Sweetnam says Earls played a key role in helping him settle into his new surrounds at the Ireland training camp when he was called into Joe Schmidt’s squad for the autumn internationals.
Twenty four-year-old Sweetnam won his first two caps for Ireland last November against Fiji and South Africa at the Aviva Stadium.
Sweetnam said of Earls form this season: “The man is outrageous. He is electric, isn't he. He seems to be getting faster with age.
“Earlsie is ridiculously good and he just seems to be getting better and better, so I think I could learn a few things off him, his running lines and what not.
“Earlsie is very good for that (giving advice to players if they need it). Even when I was up in camp and I was struggling with the moves and stuff, you could just go straight up to him, even the week before the South Africa game - and he got injured - he was straight over to me helping with the moves and stuff. It makes such a difference.
"He doesn't need to do it, but he is just such a nice guy that he will. He is very selfless. It makes a big difference.”
Sweetnam said the absence of the Ireland internationals due to their 6 Nations commitments provided Munster squad players with an opportunity to impress ahead of crucial Pro14 and Champions Cup fixtures.
Sweetnam said: "Last week it was so exciting, there are new guys coming in, everyone is looking forward for the opportunities because when the internationals are away there are so many opportunities out there.
"You kinda want to put pressure on them when they're coming back and that obviously helps massively because if they are under pressure it builds the whole squad and if you have good depth in the squad, that is where you want to be and that helps push on to win trophies and quarter-finals and stuff.”
Munster’s fixture with Cardiff this weekend will be played on the 4G surface at the Arms Park. Sweetnam is looking forward to the challenge.
Sweetnam said: "It is not going to be easy over there. They had a good win against the Cheetahs at the weekend. The likes of a 4G pitch really speeds it up and they have players like Lee-Lo (Rey Lee-Lo) and Matthew Morgan. It will be good, it will be exciting. Ya, it (4G) suits us faster players!.”
While Sweetnam and his Munster colleagues are looking forward to Saturday’s big Guinness Pro14 clash away to Cardiff Blues – the second fixture the squad will face minus their Irish internationals currently on 6 Nations duty – Johann van Graan’s charges will travel to South Africa in April for back-to-back Pro14 fixtures against the Southern Kings on April 7 and Toyota Cheetahs six days later.
The Cheetahs are second-placed Munster’s closest rivals in Conference A of the Pro 14, seven points behind Johann van Graan’s side.
Sweetnam said: “I have never been to South Africa, so I would love to make that trip. I presume they will be bringing a big enough squad, so ya I think a lot of lads will be looking forward to that.
"It will be nice to have a dry ball, might be able to throw it around a bit more."
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