That was for the Scarlets fans, says George Earle
SOUTH African George Earle has revealed that a 'get to know you' evening with the Scarlets fans inspired him to fight through the pain barrier on his Pro12 debut last weekend.
Earle dislocated his thumb during training on Thursday and the injury was still heavily strapped as he spoke to the media yesterday.
At the time it appeared that the former Cheetahs lock would be forced to withdraw from his much-anticipated first league appearance for the Scarlets.
But Earle insisted he was desperate not to let the fans down and played a significant role in the region's dazzling 45-20 opening night victory over Leinster.
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"We had a meet the fans evening last Wednesday and during that night I sort of set a benchmark, telling the fans how I wanted to play," he said.
"The next day this injury came along and I said there is no way it was stopping me playing.
"There was some ligament damage, but the X-rays showed no fracture and I was able to pass a fitness test before the game.
"It is coming along, it is strapped up a lot, but that's just precautionary ahead of Friday."
Following the departure of Lou Reed, Dominic Day and Damian Welch over the summer, the Scarlets have been desperate to fill their second-row void with a muscular presence and Earle already seems to fit the bill.
Aggressive at the contact area, he carried strongly, contributed to the defensive effort and combined well with another newcomer, Richard Kelly.
"I enjoyed the game and I thought the crowd were amazing, they really lifted me. Meeting the fans at that evening a few days earlier gave me a real perspective about what they are about and how much they love their rugby," he added.
"I phoned my father-in-law after the game. I used to go to Newlands (Cape Town) when there were 40,000 there and I told him there were 6,500 here on Saturday and they were making more noise.
"The singing and chanting of the players' names makes a great atmosphere."
The Scarlets will aim to build on their bonus-point triumph when they take on another of last season's play-off teams, Glasgow, at their new Scotstoun Stadium on Friday night.
Head coach Simon Easterby will name his side to face the Warriors tomorrow with just a couple of changes expected.
And even though confidence has soared in the wake of Saturday's seven-try romp, Earle insists nobody is getting carried away by one result.
"Obviously Leinster were missing 11 of their international players. We have only played one round and you can't read much into that," he added.
"But I thought the guys played some brilliant rugby, there was a good balance between backs and forwards and when you are on the front foot all the time it is a brilliant way to play.
"From the moment I stepped into the changing room you could tell the boys were ready to go.
"The backs were class and my wife told me after the game she thinks George North is the best rugby player she has ever seen. He looks like a lock forward but runs like a gazelle.
"We have to keep improving now. We have got to fire again in Glasgow from the first minute.
"I watched them play Ulster on Friday night. They are a physical side who are good in the contact area, and playing in a new stadium will be a big motivation for them. We can't let them get their tails up."
The Warriors, meanwhile, are hoping that Scotland lock Ali Kellock will overcome the dead leg he picked up at Ravenhill.