Earls wants to be a star
Irish confident of being able to upset Australia
Last Updated: 12/09/11 4:38pm
Earls: Full of self belief
Ireland wing Keith Earls is relishing the World Cup and has set himself the task of "lighting the tournament up".
The Munster player scored against the USA at the weekend as he won his 22nd cap in a 22-10 victory and he admits he is living the dream.
"It's incredible being at the World Cup," said the 23-year-old.
"I dreamt of it as a young lad and was watching it on TV only four years ago never thinking I'd be at the next one.
"The whole world is tuning in to watch you, so it's the sport's biggest stage. There are some nerves, but it's enjoyable as well.
"I want to do well and perform on the world stage. I want to be a superstar of the World Cup.
"I've struggled for confidence in the past, but I really want to light this tournament up.
"There's no better country for it to be in than New Zealand. The buzz around the place is incredible and there are a lot of Irish travelling around as well.
"It's good and is one of the best buzzes I've felt in a competition."
Earls' chances of setting the tournament alight will improve should he shine in Saturday's clash with Australia.
The showdown is a key encounter in Pool C with victory seeing Ireland place one foot in the knockout stages.
On current form it is hard to see how the Irish can topple the Tri-Nations champions, but Earls insists they have the capability to cause an upset at Eden Park.
"Australia are a step up from the USA, but we're not miles behind them. If we get our game right, we're capable of beating anyone," he said.
"(Backs coach) Alan Gaffney said last week that this is the best he's seen us training since he took over.
"That's good to hear from him because he doesn't give out many compliments."
Ireland need a big performance to ignite their World Cup after making an unconvincing start against the USA.
Last month's warm-up games have cast a shadow over the squad that they failed to lift at Stadium Taranaki, but Earls is refusing to hit the panic button.
"I don't look back at the past. This is the here and now. It's a different competition," he said.
"We tried to win the warm-up games, but you don't win the World Cup in August.
"We produced a result against the USA and we can kick on from there."
Having been shunted around various position by the Irish management over the last 12 months, Earls is happy to be back on the wing.
"I felt more confident on the wing against the USA. I wished I'd got more ball, I had to go looking for it at times," he said.
"Playing centre helps me when I come in field. I know the running lines.
"I enjoyed it. I felt good, it didn't feel like I made any mistakes. When I got the ball I did well with it.
"When I get the ball I'm not trying to make the big play, I'm trying to relax and ease into the game. I'm trying to enjoy it."