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Snubbed Saracens players' behind the scenes reaction to England omission

By Ian Cameron
(Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images )

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Saracens flanker Ben Earl has given an insight into how Saracens’ high profile England players have reacted to being dropped by Eddie Jones.

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Billy and Mako Vunipola, Alex Lozowski, Elliot Daly and Earl himself were all omitted from Jones’ original England Guinness Six Nations squad – although Daly has since been called up as a replacement for the injured Jonny May.

Earl featured in England’s 2020 and 2021 campaigns before being left out of the 2021 Autumn Nations Series squad. The 24-year-old is facing stiff competition in the backrow, where the rise of Alex Dombrandt, Sam Simmonds and latterly Alfie Barbeary have seen the Saracens man pushed out.

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“It’s an interesting one almost with Eddie, if I talk about the Autumn Internationals, they announced the squad I’m not in the squad, and I’m like ‘Sweet, haven’t had a phone call but I’ll plug on’,” Earl told the RugbyPass Offload podcast.

“He then rang me two days on.

“We had a good chat. He’s an incredible man-manager in the way you have these conversations. You nearly come away from it with so much confidence, even if you weren’t in the squad. He doesn’t get that praise or that image in the media.

“He makes you want to go and do that [improve]. He makes you really energized. You can be dropped but come away feeling really good about where your game is at. Maybe it’s a case of being easier to speak to when you’re not in the squad than when you are in it. I’ve certainly experienced that on the other foot.

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“I’ve got some clear things to work on and I’m looking forward to starting that journey again.

Earl also reflected on how his teammates have taken their omissions, suggesting that everyone has been relatively composed in how they’ve taken it, if also keen to prove the Australian wrong.

“Things in rugby can change so quickly,” said Earl. “That’s a big perspective in terms of those guys [Vunipolas, Daly]. Proof of the pudding is that Elliot is now in the squad, although he wasn’t three days ago.

“I think it would be an issue if they weren’t picked and they were playing badly. I don’t think they’d mind me saying this, I think they’ve been playing unbelievable well. They’ve been key talismen of our return to the Premiership.

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“Myself and Alex Lozowski are slightly different in the sense that weren’t really that [high profile in the England squad]. I got a few caps for 12 months but we weren’t really ingrained in the squad. It’s kind of a different challenge for all of us.

“Everyone has been so enthusiastic to prove everyone wrong – both media, coaches, whatever so it’s a good place to be and selfishly, it’s good news for the club and we’re used to not having two or three of those players and now we’ve got them and our team looks completely different.”

There’s of course a considerable upside for Mark McCall’s team – they have world-class players on duty during the international window.

“It’s an exciting [Premiership] block for us now. Whereas it used to be survival mode, now it’s a block where we can make some big strides in the league.”

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