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'If the opportunity arose' - England backrow open to rugby league switch

By Ian Cameron
Ben Earl hits the tackle bags in England training /Getty Images

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England flanker Ben Earl says he is open to the possibility of switching to rugby league, even going as far as organising training sessions with a Super League club.

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The compact 6’1, 102kg Earl describes himself as a massive fan of the NRL, who wakes early in the morning to catch games live in Australia, and thinks he might be suited to the 13-man code.

Earl, who spent last year on loan with Bristol Bears before returning to Saracens in the summer, has found himself surplus to requirements in an England position that is currently jammed packed with talent. He hasn’t featured since the 2021 Guinness Six Nations and admits that the thought of playing league has piqued his interest.

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Saracens vs Bristol Bears – The Showdown 2
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Saracens vs Bristol Bears – The Showdown 2

Although union players taking up league was common in the 1970s and 80s, player flow these days is nearly entirely in the opposite direction, thanks to the more lucrative wages in the 15-man game. Yet despite being born in Surrey, hundreds of miles from the league playing strongholds of the north, Earl reckons he might make a go of it one day.

Speaking to the RugbyPass Offload podcast, Earl even went as far as to set up for a training session with the Leeds Rhinos, but the pandemic but an end to those plans.

“At some point my career, I would love to give it [league] a try, if the opportunity arose.

“There was actually an opportunity to for me to do some training with Leeds Rhinos this summer just gone. It just didn’t work out. They just had a Cup Final and rugby league was hit really badly with Covid, right in the middle of their season.

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“At one point I was going to head up there for a week and half to see if I enjoyed it. I love watching it and I’d like to think that I’d be alright playing it.”

Earl however admits that playing league may be a pipe dream, even if he is a huge fan of the code.

“It’s something that I’m interested in, if the opportunity ever arose, I’d give it a go,” before adding “As long as I’m here [at Saracens] and enjoying, I don’t think I will.

“I’m always up early watching the rugby league in Australia when it’s on.”

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