Earls: Argentina match is our cup final
Keith Earls has told his Ireland team-mates that this Saturday’s clash with Argentina is the cup final of the Autumn series.
Declan Kidney's men welcome Argentina to the Aviva Stadium knowing that victory is a must to ensure a place in the all-important top eight of IRB World Rankings.
Scotland and Samoa are threatening Ireland’s position following the defeat to South Africa earlier this month and Earls has called on Ireland to produce the consistent display he feels they are capable of.
The versatile Munster man told RTÉ Radio: "It is another international for us, that is the way we are thinking about it. We hadn’t really spoken about points, apart from a bit, but we spoke about that it is our cup final.
"If we win it, we’re doing well and hopefully finish in the top eight in the rankings. It is all about performance. We feel we haven’t performed for the full 80 minutes in the last couple of games so that is something we are looking for, to perform for the 80-plus minutes.
"We started strongly (against South Africa), we went in with a good lead and (then had) a small loss of concentration at the start of the second half," Earls added.
"Then they ended up getting a couple of penalties and a try but we had them under pressure towards the end. It is all about the full 80. We have confidence in our game plan and we have the ability to beat most teams.
"We are disappointed with what happened against South Africa but we are a bit more relaxed now.
"We are treating this as a cup final and a lot of Irish teams have played in cup finals in the recent years." - Keith Earls
"We are treating this as a cup final and a lot of Irish teams have played in cup finals in the recent years. We’re used to this but as I said it is all about performances for us. Against Argentina, they class themselves with their defence and they are a real dogged team to break down.
"We are not going to get too many chances and when we do get them we have to take them and keep them on the backfoot."
An Ireland XV were comprehensive winners over Fiji last Saturday in Thomand Park with Craig Gilroy’s hat-trick the highlight of a 53-0 hammering.
Earls is pleased to see the extra competition in the squad and admitted that the manner of the win forces senior players to change their game to keep their places.
"It is great to have fellows creeping up on top of us and they are keeping us on top of our toes. They are making us evolve our game to stay where we are. It is great to see Gilly coming through and Paddy Jackson and Luke Marshall.
"They will be putting serious pressure on a few lads over the next couple of years. We’re looking forward to it and it is great to see."
Argentina competed in the Rugby Championship for the first time this year as they look to increase their chances of toppling the dominant forces in international rugby.
Earls is only too aware, including based on past experiences, of what Argentina will bring to the table on Saturday in Dublin.
"They have played six or seven or even eight games so they are well into it and they are a great squad.
"Obviously they have done a lot of work and Graham Henry was in with them for a while during the Rugby Championship and they are just not a 1-10 team now. They have a great backline and they are strong lads as well."