By Simon Austin
BBC Sport in Cape Town
Earls has scored two tries for the Lions in South Africa
Keith Earls has made the same impact in his debut season as Jonny Wilkinson did 11 years ago, according to British and Irish Lions team-mate Ronan O'Gara.
Earls, 21, is vying for a place in the squad for the second Test against South Africa after a poor start to his tour.
"It's his first season of senior rugby, so to achieve what he has, I don't think anyone has had that impact since Jonny Wilkinson," O'Gara said.
"Attitude is everything in this game and he has it in spades."
Earls, like Wilkinson, played for his country in his first season as a professional, but the Irishman has gone one better by also representing the Lions.
The Munster man, who can play at centre or full-back, scored the only try in Tuesday's 13-13 draw against the Emerging Springboks, adding to his score against the Free State Cheetahs on 6 June.
O'Gara, who plays alongside Earls for both Munster and Ireland, praised the youngster for battling back from his opening-game horror show against the Royal XV.
Earls knocked the ball on several times in that match and played a direct role in the opposition's first try when he spilled a high ball early in the first half.
O'Gara said: "He has been really well managed since that first day. You saw how he took his try and his kicking game is really good."
The player himself admitted he had been overawed in that first game.
"It was tough, I struggled for the first two weeks and made a couple of mistakes in that match," Earls told BBC Sport.
"I admit I got a bit of a scare when I first saw my name above my seat in the dressing room.
"That's when it hit me, when I thought 'Jesus, I'm playing for the Lions'. At the start of the season I just hoped to get in the Munster side and to play in the Heineken Cup.
"What has happened has been unbelievable."
Earls said O'Gara and Lions skipper Paul O'Connell had helped him turn things round on tour.
"I've got experienced people around me, like Ronan and Pauly, and they urged me on," he said.
The Lions, who lost the first Test 26-21, name their team for the second Test on Thursday and Earls admits he has "that bit of hope" that he will be named in the 22-man squad.
If not, there is a chance he has played his last match of the tour, because only the two Tests remain.
If that is the case, Earls will have ended on a high after his performance against the Emerging Boks.
"I was happy with how it went," he said. "The conditions were really tough - it was like playing in the Magners League on a Friday night.
"But we set out to play some rugby and I think we managed that. It was just a shame we couldn't finish things off."