While Rugby World Cup warmup games can often be rather understated affairs due to the lack of jeopardy in the fixture, there were plenty of moments that stood during Ireland's recent win over England at the Aviva Stadium.
The supporters were keen to give the team a good sendoff ahead of the tournament in France. Of course, it's always help when the side score some wonderful tries and beat England on home soil.
Without doubt, the biggest cheer of the evening came when Keith Earls crossed the line for his try. The Munster man came off the bench to make his 100th test appearance in the fixture, with the reaction to that score summing up his popularity among Ireland fans.
In the corner.
On the day he received his 100th cap.pic.twitter.com/rEem77aTGn
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) August 19, 2023
Only a few months ago, it looked as though Earls' career could be over. He went though some major injury issues, and now in his mid-30s, it was thought it would be difficult for him to recover fully.
However, he as roared back since then. After helping Munster to the URC title earlier this year, he would go on to be included in Ireland's squad for World Cup yesterday.
As it turns out, his head coach at international level played a big part in getting him to this point.
Andy Farrell had to talk Keith Earls out of retirement
Andy Farrell has no shortage of talented backs at his disposal, but he was very keen to see Keith Earls stick around for this tournament.
Speaking at yesterday's Rugby World Cup squad announcement, he recalled how he had to convince the 35-year old not to retire from the game altogether around 18 months ago.
Keith Earls, I had a conversation 18 months ago to try to stop him from retiring.
He's certainly come through the other side.
He's been outstanding over the last nine weeks as regards giving to the squad, his whole self, his experience et cetera but at the same time being as fit and excited as I've ever seen him. You go from one extreme to the other...
The balance of the squad for such a small group that goes to the World Cup, versatility within that is pretty important. The likes of Keith and Jimmy O'Brien come into that category.
Keith Earls won't be a first choice player at the Rugby World Cup, but he is sure to play a role in some of the pools games. As Andy Farrell points out, his versatility could also be key later on in the event.
His experience could also prove crucial in the camp, with the Limerick man a real leader in the dressing room. He certainly deserves the opportunity to see out his Ireland career on the biggest stage.