The Official Online RBS 6 Nations Store is open. The store has everything you need to get behind your team during the RBS 6 Nations, plus the store is now fully stocked with a much wider range of rugby merchandise.
His first audition for the heralded No.13 didn’t go to plan for 24-year-old Earls however – the 5ft 11ins centre was bulldozed by Tuilagi in the opening minutes of Ireland’s 20-9 World Cup warm-up match defeat to England at Lansdowne Road.
Tuilagi – two inches taller and 45lbs heavier than Earls – was at his ferocious best that day and his bruising tackle ruled Ireland back-row David Wallace out of the World Cup.
But Tainton has every confidence in Earls’ defensive abilities ahead of Saturday’s final RBS 6 Nations clash of the 2012 Championship.
"We all saw what happened in that pre-World Cup match, but that was exactly that, a pre-World Cup match," Tainton told the Irish Independent.
"And Keith has worked very hard on his defence lines with people coming in from different angles since then.
"He more than proved in Paris that he was capable of dealing with Aurelien Rougerie in the wider channels. He's also a very big and powerful man, but he stopped him at source.
"Keith has worked very hard and now he's in a good place and very happy with himself at the moment. So, hopefully, he produces the same thing against Tuilagi.”