Keith Earls says that the atmosphere at Munster is much more relaxed than ten years ago, and that is a positive thing.
This atmosphere has largely been attributed to new coach Rassie Erasmus' philosophy and has resulted in more energetic, positive and open-minded players, who look as if they aren't carrying the burden on their shoulders that they once were.
“Even before going into a meeting, someone can be running off, then we get in here and they’re switched on. It’s a lot more relaxing," Earls told The42.ie
“I don’t know how to describe it; fellas aren’t on edge 24/7, probably on edge when we’re in the centre, and when we’re on the field we still kill each other, when we’re in meetings we’ll have a go off each other – but in general it’s a good balance we have.
“It’s definitely a lot more mellow from ten years ago. They were made of hard stuff years ago – different stuff, should I say.”
Meanwhile, Earls has paid tribute to the younger players. He believes they have given him a new lease on life and revitalized his career with their exuberance but admits they still need to be put in their place from time to time.
“If anything they [the younger players] have helped me,” said the 29-year-old this week.
“I thought I probably had to be like the older lads. I suppose when I came into the group first, I was young for a couple of years.
“I broke through in 2007/08 and Conor [Murray] and [Mike] Sherry and the boys only broke through in 2011. I had to be in a squad with men that were having kids for a couple of years and I got mature quite early, at a young age.
“I learned a lot off the ROGs and the Paulies and the Dougies, but the lads who have come in have brought me back down to my age nearly and I’m a lot more relaxed and I’m enjoying it.
“The younger lads still need a kick up the arse every now and then, but they still have to drive standards every now and then because they are a different breed.
“They’re still tough, hard men now, but they know how to switch off."