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Keith Earls' anecdote reveals the measure of Andy Farrell's character

Keith Earls revealed that he believes himself to be dyslexic in his new book. On Off The Ball, Earls told a story that revealed the character of Ireland coach Andy Farrell.

Keith Earls joined Joe Molloy on Off The Ball on Tuesday to discuss his book Fight or Flight.

Keith Earls beat New Zealand on Saturday afternoon. He replaced Bundee Aki in the centre during the second half.

The Munster winger has long been respected for his performances on the field. He draws praise from the best rugby players in the world. Just ask Nemani Nadolo, who is one of the most exciting wingers in World Rugby. Nadolo plays for Fiji and Leicester Tigers. He has played at the highest levels in the Southern and Northern Hemispheres for different clubs.

During last year's Six Nations, he tweeted:

Earls' demeanour on the field has always been that of a calm, cerebral veteran. Even when he was young, he played as if he was seasoned. Therefore, it was a significant moment when he revealed his mental health challenges on the Late Late Show recently.

This week, Earls joined Joe Molloy on Off The Ball to discuss his book, which details many of his mental health challenges.

He is bipolar. But it was another detail that stood out to Molloy.

Earls has not been diagnosed with dyslexia, but he believes he has it and will soon be tested for it.

He explained with a recent example when he misspelled his own daughter's name.

"I definitely, definitely have a touch of dyslexia," Earls said.

"Even since writing the book. I kept three books for my three little girls. And I'm putting them away for them to read when they're older, but I wrote a little piece for the three of them last week and I even spelled Ella-Mae's name wrong. I put E-A-L-L-A. And she noticed it. She said it to me."

Earls struggled during the pandemic because he couldn't help his children with their homework. He felt embarrassed.

Parents of all kinds struggle with their children's homework. Earls isn't alone in that. Once we leave school we tend to forget most of what we need to know to complete those tasks. And with young, adoring daughters, Earls wasn't going to find too much judgment in his own home.

But it's a greater challenge for adults outside the home. The default assumption is that everyone can read and write competently. Easily even.

"It is a tough thing to talk about but I accept it. I'm not frightened to ask how to spell something. I didn't know how to post a letter or what way to write an address. I didn't know where to put the stamp. Edel was looking at me with two heads. I have embarrassed myself a couple of times throughout the years."

This is not necessarily a challenge of Earls' past. He recalled a recent conversation with Ireland head coach Andy Farrell and a subsequent situation that developed.

"When Andy Farrell first took over, he asked me what are my plans after rugby. I said I'm a small bit worried about it because I don't read well, I don' write well and I don't spell well.

"He said he knew many people who went on to be successful. You go away and you try and learn and you pick it up fairly handy.

"But a couple of weeks later we ended up having a spelling competition in camp. Backs against forwards. And I was sitting at the front and I was like 'God Simon [Easterby], don't pick me.'

"I knew I wasn't going to get up so I wasn't going to be embarrassed. He picks me and I felt really vulnerable. The lads are all there 'Get up Earlsy' and in fairness to Andy he got up.

"He wasn't undermining me, but he was just like 'Earlsy doesn't do spelling competitions' and that was it. Simon even came up and apologised to me but I said look there's nothing to it, accepting is a big part of my life. How was he to know, but it's still something I'm struggling with."

Earls and the Ireland squad will face Argentina this weekend. Andy Farrell's side is aiming for three consecutive wins during the Autumn Nations Series. Earls will hope to start his first game of the three and win his 96th cap for Ireland. He can become the eighth player in history to win 100 caps for Ireland next year.

He will join current players Jonathan Sexton and Cian Healy in that group.

Earls is also Ireland's second-highest try scorer behind Brian O'Driscoll. He scored 34 tries in 95 games.

Ireland no longer need to rely on Jonathan Sexton


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Andy Farrell Ireland Rugby Keith Earls Mental Health Munster Rugby