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The 'Oh, wow' Saracens reaction to Ben Earl getting England recall

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

Saracens have explained the very different Ben Earl that will head into England camp next week compared to the back-rower last capped by his country in March 2021. The 25-year-old made a Test rugby debut in early 2020 and went on to feature in 13 successive matches under Eddie Jones as a used replacement who was given 245 minutes of action.

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His return to Saracens from a year-long loan spell at Bristol while the London club was in the Championship, coincided with his England squad axing by Jones. However, 22 months on from his last Test appearance, Earl will now head into next week’s five-day Pennyhill Park gathering under new boss Steve Borthwick a very different entity.

So insisted Saracens head coach Joe Shaw when asked by RugbyPass to outline the difference between Earl joining the England class of 2023 compared to when he fell out of favour in 2021. “Oh, wow,” began Shaw. “Last year he got Premiership player of the year, didn’t he? His performances for us were exceptional.

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“One thing I have got to say about Ben – for a young lad because he is a young lad – is when you get an accolade like that or you have had a season like that, it’s probably easy to take your foot off the pedal a little bit but he hasn’t done that.

“He turned up to pre-season in incredible shape so he was so far down his pre-season (before it even began). He is another one who is never satisfied with his game, he wants to get better and he looks like he is enjoying himself.

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“That is the other thing about playing in our team, the positions he has managed to put himself into, he has had huge, huge impacts consistently this season but he is always looking to get better and I am sure when he gets into camp he will talk to Steve and find out what is needed to play for England.”

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Having made a dozen Gallagher Premiership appearances this season, Earl is currently leading the turnovers won chart with 21, one ahead of Harlequins’ Will Evans and four clear of Leicester’s Tommy Reffell. His 116 tackles have him listed as the league’s ninth-busiest tackler. He is also eighth on the defenders beaten list with 28 and joint-eighth in the clean breaks category with twelve.

“Obviously, there has been a change with the coaching staff for England and you want your boys to be in, we want as many as possible of our lads to play international rugby and represent and achieve their dreams,” added Shaw. “Now Ben has got himself back in the picture by getting himself into the camp. He has just got to take this form and confidence and belief that he has got into it and see what happens.”

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