Johann van Graan praises Keith Earls’ bravery and honesty after mental health struggles

Johann van Graan Keith Earls

Munster head coach Johann van Graan has praised Keith Earls after the Ireland winger opened up on his bipolar diagnosis and mental health struggles.

Earls spoke very honestly and openly about his mental health on RTE’s The Late Late Show recently and spoke about how getting diagnosed with bipolar brought him peace and understanding after years of struggling.

The Munster and Ireland stalwart explained that his life had improved greatly since his diagnosis and urged people out there who are struggling to cope with similar issues to seek professional help.

Van Graan was speaking at a press conference and praised Earls for speaking out, saying that it could help others to take the same steps in their own lives.

Johann Van Graan on Keith Earls.

“Keith Earls is a fantastic man, a Munster man through and through. I remember when I came to Munster initially, he was one of the first guys I talked to about Munster rugby and what it means to play for Munster and come from Limerick,” van Graan said, via The Irish Times.

“Obviously, the things he shared were of a very private nature and the way he said it on Friday evening made such a big difference, not only to ourselves but I’m sure to a lot of people on the outside.

“For somebody to be that vulnerable and that honest, I believe it will change a lot of people’s lives because of that. The main thing is Earlsie is just himself when he’s in the HPC [high-performance centre].

“He’s such a big part of Munster rugby and what we’ve been doing in the past. I’m very glad that he’s part of our group and very proud of him as a rugby player, as a man, as a friend, as a husband, and as a father. That’s bravery, that’s honesty, and we put that in the highest regard at Munster Rugby.”

The Munster veteran is well placed to start for Ireland next month.

While Earls is nearing the end of his career at 34 years old, he is still expected to play a major role in Ireland head coach Andy Farrell’s immediate plans.

The Limerick man didn’t feature in Ireland’s tests against Japan and the USA in the summer, but he played in all five of his country’s Six Nations matches this year, and scored a brilliant try against England in the final match of the championship.

Earls has primarily played as a winger for his province and his country throughout his career, but his two starts for Munster this season have both come at outside centre, while the likes of Simon Zebo and Andrew Conway have played on the wing.

Should Earls start for Ireland this November it will be likely be on the wing, but his ability to play at outside centre makes him an even more valuable option for Farrell in the tests against Japan, New Zealand and Argentina next month.

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