Keith Earls expecting more physicality from South Africa

Keith Earls has braced himself for a physical challenge
Keith Earls has braced himself for a physical challenge

Ireland wing Keith Earls has warned his team of more physicality from South Africa when the two teams meet each other at Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

The last time South Africa were on the European tour in November 2016, they suffered defeats to Wales, Italy and England but Earls believes Allister Coetzee's men have turned things around that includes 3-0 win over France in June and later shook off a 57-0 hammering by New Zealand to push the All Blacks to the edge in a 25-24 defeat in their last Test outing.

"You always end up battered playing against them," said Earls of the Springboks.

"The physicality is the usual with them. We played against them three times in 2016, so we know what to expect.

"And they are on the up. They had some good performances in the Rugby Championship.

"I know New Zealand beat them well but that happens to a lot of us.

"They have some exciting players coming through, they have expanded their game a lot, they can be physical but they have lots of pace out wide and they can ball play."

Head coach Schmidt has pitched a clutch of new faces into the Ireland squad for the November series, and Earls admitted feeling surprised to find himself as the elder statesman.

"There's a lot of new faces, but thankfully I'd been on tour with a few lads over the summer before the Lions boys came back getting used to the lads," said Earls, who has racked up 62 caps since his 2008 Test debut.

"It's where I am in my career, I am the older fella, it's quite bizarre. The young fellas are keeping us on our toes.

"Rather than us asking all the questions they are coming to us and asking questions on bits of detail.

"Any time you get called into an Irish squad or to play for Ireland, it's brilliant.

"I came into it when I was a young lad, I'm in the 60s with caps now and you still get excited with match week and you still get nervous about whether you get selected. It's a brilliant time and hopefully I'll get another opportunity."

Ireland will take on South Africa, Fiji and Argentina in their November Tests.


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