Ireland might be fighting to keep their Six Nations Grand Slam hopes alive, but having kids and the war in Syria keeps things in perspective for Munster’s Keith Earls.
Joe Schmidt’s side head into Saturday’s clash with Wales with wins in their opening two games and victory would increase talk about a possible Six Nations Grand Slam showdown with England on St Patrick’s day.
But despite the high expectations on the team, Earls insists that events away from the rugby pitch help to keep him focused.
“It’s weird, I can’t help being relaxed now going into games,” said Earls. “A big thing for me is putting things in perspective and it’s something I do every day, every half an hour, every minute.
“When you have kids, you see some of the stuff that is going on in Syria and if I needed to be grounded or if I’m worried about a game I go back and look at that and see how lucky we are.”
The Munster winger insists Ireland’s players have had a in-depth look at Wales ahead of their meeting at the Aviva Stadium, where provincial teammate Chris Farrell will make his Six Nations debut.
Earls has so far impressed with his ability under the high ball and the winger explained he has been working on is his hand-eye co-ordination in an attempt to improve his aerial ability.
“I suppose I have been doing a lot of eye training as well so I can see the ball running at high speed,” added Earls. “It’s a massive part of the game and thankfully from the work we’ve put in, some of the results have come through in games.
“It’s easy stuff you know? Putting an ‘x’ on the window and moving your head back and forward, getting your eyes balanced with the gel in your ears so that when you’re running at high speed that the ball isn’t… you’re trying to look for it. It is quite hard to see a ball running at high speed so look, I’m at an age now where every one percent counts!”
Earls does his exercise at home, and at Munster, where he admits some of his teammates ask him why he spends time staring at an x on the window.
He also acknowledged that bangs to his head knocked his eyes “out of sync with the gel in the ears”, leading him to go to a balance centre in Dublin and learn exercises which he has returned to in recent weeks.
“Like I said I’m looking for the one percent in everything and at the moment I am seeing the ball a lot more clearly in the air as I’m running, there’s still loads to improve on as well.” When asked whether he simply may need glasses Earls laughed, replying: “Possibly. Get contact lenses, yeah!”
The Press Association contributed to this report