Earls eager to show he is the son of BOD

Ireland 42 Italy 10

The Aviva Stadium

Keith Earls is determined to prove he is worthy of becoming Brian O'Driscoll's successor as Ireland's outside centre. The Munsterman ran in the first try in Saturday's rout of Italy as part of a bright display that mixed flourishes in attack with moments of defensive steel.

The 24-year-old is seen by the Irish management as the player to fill the void when O'Driscoll, who will miss the whole of this year's Six Nations following shoulder surgery, eventually retires. Earls will thus continue in the No 13 jersey for the last three matches. He wants to show that defensive frailties exposed by Wales in last autumn's World Cup quarter-finals were just an aberration.

"I made a couple of mistakes in that match," said Earls, who missed the Six Nations opener against Wales because his daughter, born last month, was ill.

"No excuses, but I should have gone off that time when I got hit by [Wales centre] Jamie Roberts. It would have been easier for me to go off but I wanted to stay on and help the lads and I made a couple of silly decisions in defence. Because of that I want to get out there and prove everyone wrong and show I'm capable of taking over from Brian and that 13 is my position.

"I felt good in my defence against Italy and it's something I have been working on since I got back from the World Cup. I know my attack is there, so in training I've been using Donnacha Ryan as a battering ram to give me practice in defence."

Ireland's top try-scorer at the World Cup has played most of his Test rugby on the wing. "I've been playing centre all my life, though I've also played at wing and full-back which has made me more versatile," he said."I spoke to [Munster coach] Tony McGahan when I came back from the World Cup and said that I wanted to be a 13, I feel more comfortable there.

"Tony was all for it, I just had to prove to him I deserved to be playing 13 and he gave me my chance. I have worked hard at training and thankfully he trusted me and it's been good since."

Far greater tests than the Azzurri midfield await. First up are French pair Aurelien Rougerie and Wesley Fofana, in Paris next Sunday.

"Gordon D'Arcy and I haven't played with each other that much and he is used to Brian, so it will take a while before we're used to each other," he said. "We're confident together and know each other well. I don't think we did anything bad against Italy and our confidence will only grow from here. I enjoy playing with him, he's a good guy to run off. I trust him in defence and we're starting to gel together."

Ireland: Tries Earls, Bowe 2, Court, Trimble; Conversions Sexton 4; Penalties Sexton 3. Italy: Try Parisse; Conversion Botes; Penalty Botes.

Ireland R Kearney; T Bowe, K Earls, G D'Arcy, A Trimble; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best, M Ross, D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell, S Ferris, J Heaslip, S O'Brien. Replacements E Reddan for Murray, 54; P O'Mahony for O'Brien, 58; D Ryan for O'Callaghan, 58; F McFadden for Earls, 67; T Court for Healy, 69; S Cronin for Best, 69; R O'Gara for D'Arcy, 69.

Italy A Masi; G Venditti, T Benvenuti, A Sgarbi, L McLean; T Botes, E Gori; M Rizzo, L Ghiraldini, L Cittadini, Q Geldenhuys, M Bortolami, A Zanni, S Parisse, R Barbieri. Replacements K Burton for Botes, 58; A Pavanello for Geldenhuys, 58; G Canale for Sgarbi, 63; S Favaro for Barbieri, 64; F Staibano for Cittadini, 67; F Semenzato for Gori, 71; T D'Apice for Ghiraldini, 71.

Referee M Joubert (South Africa).

Match facts

Ireland Points Italy

5 Tries 1

4/5 Conversions 1/1

3/3 Penalties 1/4

0 Drop goals 0/1

Phases of play

3/0 Scrums won/lost 4/0

6/2 Line-outs won/lost 8/1

11 Pens conceded 12

3 Mauls won 5

22 Ruck and drive 6

81 Ruck and pass 41

Team statistics

175 Passes completed 125

8 Line breaks 2

19 Possession kicked 17

5 Kicks to touch 1

70/1 Tackles made/missed 125/9

12 Offloads in tackle 7

10 Total errors made 10

Balls won

106 In open play 52

42 In opponent's 22 9

21 At set pieces 23

8 Turnovers won 2


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map