herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Keith hoping to bring ill baby home as he misses big game

IRELAND rugby star Keith Earls is hopeful he can bring home his beautiful newborn daughter from hospital this weekend.

Earls (24) pulled out of the Six Nations team to face Wales tomorrow when his baby girl Ella May became ill.

The winger, who was drafted in to replace Brian O'Driscoll at centre, told Ireland coach Declan Kidney that he wouldn't feel comfortable lining out while his one-week-old daughter was in hospital.

Earls, whose partner Edel McGee gave birth to their first-born on January 25, had big boots to fill and would have spent most of the week in nervous anticipation.

And there is a lot of pride at stake when the boys in green face up against the team that knocked them out of the World Cup.

But those concerns must have paled into insignificance the minute Earls discovered he had a sick baby to care for.

"Keith has been ruled out due to personal reasons," team manager Michael Kearney explained. "Unfortunately his baby has been taken ill and is in hospital as we speak.

"The nature of the illness is unclear. However, I did speak to Keith this morning and he was hopeful and optimistic that the baby would get home some time over the weekend."

Last week Earls' partner Edel wrote online about her delight at the birth of her first daughter: "Ella May is home and already giving orders.

"Ella May just slept all night. Perfection. I had to wake her!" she added.

Declan Kidney revealed that Earls' participation in training was limited the week after the birth.

But despite the unfortunate circumstances, Earls' decision not to play provided an opening for Fergus McFadden. And this manoeuvre meant that Dave Kearney was moved up on to the bench for the game.

Dave's big brother Rob posted a message of support for his sibling.

"Those fancy new Gilbert balls weren't travelling too far in the cold this morning...Hope it warms up by Sunday," he said.

"Also delighted for Dave to be named on the bench. Very well deserved!"

Meanwhile, the original number 13, Brian O'Driscoll, was taking it easy last night with wife Amy Huberman.

"Ok so easy part of the weekend begins with food (missus is saying Nandos) and cinema," he said.

"Hard part is no egg chasing on Sunday."

Match coverage, see Sport

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