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Pearson gunning for England return as Borthwick called to make changes

By Chris Jones
Tom Pearson of England A looks on during the rugby international match between England A and Portugal at Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium on February 25, 2024 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Patrick Khachfe/Getty Images)

Tom Pearson is hoping his man of the match performance in front of Steve Borthwick in England A’s thumping 91-5 win over Portugal in Leicester can push him closer to an England recall.

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Pearson, who moved from London Irish to Northampton Saints after the demise of the Exiles, made his Test debut against Wales last year.

He was released from the full England squad to join the A players preparing to face Portugal, and is now hoping to rejoin the senior players in the build-up to the clash with Grand Slam champions Ireland.

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Head coach Borthwick will be under pressure to get selection right against the Irish with Pearson, Harry Randall and Josh Hodge amongst the players who impressed in the 15-try romp against Os Lobos.

Pearson said: “It’s always an honour to wear the Rose and play in whatever capacity and that was in the forefront of my mind. I am hoping I caught Steve’s eye and did things that he’s looking for and that he wants to see more of from me.

“Some of the guys came down [from England] at the start of the week and shifted their mindset into getting involved, getting stuck in, not hung up about not being involved against Scotland. So, having that next job kind of mentality and just making sure you come in and contribute to the environment and put in a performance against Portugal, myself included. There’s a fallow week next week so, hopefully, I get to rejoin the squad.

“I really saw the lineout as a bit of a challenge to be honest and something different – hopefully it can become a strength of mine and help teams I play for. It’s something I’ve never done before at this level, but it’s coming along and is something I need to work on. I am pretty comfortable with where I am. I think Charlie Ewels is a great leader and great organiser and it’s good to have experienced team members around me.

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“The system we ran was based on forwards holding the edge to try and spread them a little bit offensively. A couple of times I found myself in a bit of space and I was able to work as the extra man which was nice.

“Considering we had only been together a matter of days I think it is a real bonus of being in a programme like this that people are gaining experience coming into an England team set-up for the first time. They might have never played with that person before and now these guys are building relationships, and connections and having different combinations.

“Rands [Harry Randall] and Charlie Atkinson have probably have never played before and they formed their relationship this week. I think being in an A programme brings together partnerships like that, and that can develop when they play together or further down the line. They’ve already got a mutual understanding of how each other plays.”

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