Keith Earls is pushing hard for a seat on the Lions’ plane to South Africa this Summer after another all-action display at the weekend.
Lions coach Ian McGeechan has admitted that he has been monitoring the Munster starlet since November last year.
Earls scored twice in the province’s emphatic 43-9 victory over the Ospreys at the weekend to enhance his reputation as one of the brightest talents in Ireland at the moment.
The 21-year-old Limerick native missed out on playing for Ireland during the RBS Six Nations, but he remained with the squad as first-choice cover indicating how close he was to making an appearance.
Earls has played full-back and wing this year but in the number 13 jersey the youngster has been in sensational form.
“I’m obviously aware that Brian O’Driscoll and Luke Fitzgerald can play number 13,” McGeechan told the Irish Daily Star.
“But we’ve seen Keith play and do some pretty impressive things, we are well aware of what he can do.”
Lions’ tours have traditionally been a stage for players who missed out on RBS 6 Nations duty to showcase what they can do. McGeechan is keen to stay loyal to this precedent if he feels a player can shine in South Africa.
“Yes, it is part of a very old tradition that the Lions would consider taking a player who might not have been capped at international level or Championship level.
“If I thought a player could bring something exceptional or something unexpected he would be in that category.”
Earls has provided many unexpected moments this season, including two outstanding tries against the Ospreys as well as a fine individual effort against Leinster in the Magners league the previous weekend.
Earls made his international debut against Canada in the November internationals and scored a try in the first few minutes, highlighting his explosive potential.
“There is every chance we will take someone who mightn’t be a first choice for his country,” McGeechan added. “If he had something nobody from any other country had it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility. That’s what we did last time in 1997.”