Keith Earls has donned the famous Ireland green on 84 occasions – but now he’s giving away one of his most prized jerseys to help combat the effects of the Coronavirus outbreak.
The flying winger announced he is raising money for Barnados Ireland by raffling off the shirt he wore as his side toppled New Zealand 16-9 in November 2018 – a historic first win over the All Blacks on home soil.
The Ireland and Munster star has enjoyed a brilliant international career, crossing 30 times for his country since 2008 and being part of the squad who clinched a memorable Guinness Six Nations Grand Slam title back in 2018.
But now he’s making waves off the pitch in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic by giving away one of his most famous pieces of memorabilia.
And while he has already exceeded his €15,000 target, he is still accepting contributions via his GoFundMe page that you can donate to here.
In a post on his Instagram channel on Tuesday night, Earls said: “I am hoping to raise as much money as possible for Barnardos Ireland.
“Barnardos front line staff have rapidly adapted their essential services to children and families since the Coronavirus crisis began.
“They are delivering door drops with basics, like food parcels and baby supplies as well as providing vital emotional and practical support to families who are reaching breaking point.
“I’m going to run a giveaway over my social media accounts and would encourage you to donate what you can if you’re interested in owning this jersey signed by myself. It was worn during a pivotal game for Irish Rugby and I am hoping it is somewhat of a collector’s item.
“No matter what you can give, big or small, it will go a very long way in supporting Ireland’s most vulnerable children and families at this time.
“Anyone who donates will be included in the raffle. All support is greatly appreciated.”
The 32-year-old said he will announce the randomly-selected winner of the shirt on April 7, with the move prompting praise from fellow Ireland internationals Bundee Aki and Tommy O’Donnell on Instagram.
Earls hasn’t been the only Guinness Six Nations star to contribute to the response to the Coronavirus outbreak, with Italy’s Maxime Mbanda fighting the disease on the frontline and women’s players Claire McLaughlin and Gaëlle Hermet also working hard to support the vulnerable.
But Earls’ gesture represents a charitable move of a different kind, raising money for an initiative going above and beyond in Ireland to help combat the virus.
Mary Gamble, Barnardos Director of Fundraising said: “We are so grateful to Keith for running this fundraiser – the money raised will ensure we will continue to reach, and provide support to, children that need us most.
“I urge you to please donate what you can afford.
“The families we work with, who were already living in stressful situations, are now experiencing a pressure cooker effect.
“Children are living with domestic abuse, parental mental health challenges, neglect, acrimonious separation and family breakdown and addiction – now with no escape.
“They are also in need of food, nappies and other essential items that they would have received coming to Barnardos centres.”