TOKYO, 17 Oct - Four years ago, in the week of Ireland's ill-fated World Cup quarter-final against Argentina, Keith Earls got himself into such a state of nervous tension that his wife Edel feared for his well-being.
The Munster winger, who is in line to win his 82nd cap against New Zealand on Saturday, looked back on that unhappy time, as Ireland again bid to make history by reaching the semi-finals for the first time.
"I felt violently ill all week going into it. It was ridiculous," he said. "After that game I said to myself I'd never let myself get to that stage again. My wife thought I was going to have a heart attack with the state I was in. I've learned to deal with that."
With experience comes self-awareness and perspective. Two weeks after his 32nd birthday, Earls is in a much better place. Win or lose on Saturday, he will stay on an even keel.
"I prepare as well as I can - and what's the worst-case scenario of the weekend? You either go into the history books or I go home to my wife and kids, and everyone's healthy.
"I'm really enjoying this week, I'm a bit more relaxed. It's another game, isn't it? It's just against the reigning world champions and it's going to be a massive challenge, but if we're to test ourselves and want to go on to achieve great things, we're going to have to play them at some stage."
These days, Earls is one of the elder statesmen in the squad and, despite failing to add to his 30 Ireland tries, he has been in excellent form in his third World Cup. Team-mates such as Jacob Stockdale have praised Earls for giving them the benefit of the lessons he learned the hard way.
"Now we're a lot more open-minded," said Earls. "It's all right for fellas to be nervous. If you're not nervous, there's something wrong with you. Nerves are good because it means you care. It's trying to use those nerves as a positive rather than a negative."
The passing years have not slowed him down - if anything, he still looks the fastest of the 31 players in the Ireland squad.
"I'm feeling great. I think it's the onsen baths over here. They're great, the Japanese, with their hot baths - you can go and relax.
"It's amazing the kind of chats you get down there. You'd be chatting about players or about training and all of a sudden there's a load of detail having been spoken inside there.
"I had terrible back issues for two years. I genuinely, bar one or two injuries, feel the best I've felt in two years. That's hand on heart."
Earlier in the week, fly-half Johnny Sexton expressed surprise at what he termed the "strange" criticism of some of Ireland's performances in Japan. Earls, though, has not allowed this external noise to interfere with his relaxed routine.
"No, I genuinely don't know what the buzz is at home. I hear it's negative as well at times. I don't want to get distracted by it. It's maybe cheesy but I know my kids are excited, my wife is excited, but that's about it."
All of Ireland will also be excited if Earls can punish the All Blacks with his electrifying pace in the biggest game of his career.