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'You're going into big dog zone and think everyone is horrible'

(Photo by Alex Davidson - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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Henry Arundell has revealed that his nerves over entering England’s “big dog zone” were eased during a pub session with Ellis Genge and Marcus Smith. Arundell was called up by Eddie Jones for the first time a fortnight ago following a series of dynamic displays for London Irish and England U20s, highlighted by a series of stunning tries.


The 19-year-old full-back’s exploits saw him crowned the Gallagher Premiership’s breakthrough player of the season on Tuesday night and he could make his senior international debut against the Barbarians at Twickenham on June 19.

Entering the England camp for the first time a fortnight ago was a daunting experience, yet Arundell soon felt comfortable amid a concerted effort from Jones’ squad to make newcomers feel at home. “I was very nervous at first. Most guys who do go in feel like that,” he said.

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“But a lot of players were very welcoming, more welcoming than I thought they would be, to be honest. You are going into the big dog zone and you think everyone will be horrible, but they are a great group of guys and are really looking after me.

“We went to the pub on the Sunday and I sat with Ellis and Marcus and they were both really good to me, having a chat and calming the nerves. Being called up by England is the kind of thing you dream about. It sounds like a cliche, but it’s true.


“To get it now is obviously very exciting. It doesn’t mean I’m going to play. It doesn’t mean I’m going to get capped any time soon. It is about learning as much as possible so I can go back to the club or possibly either go on tour to Australia with England or play for the U20s.”


Arundell’s high-octane try against Toulon in early May propelled him into rugby’s mainstream, but it was a less spectacular solo effort as a replacement against Wasps a week earlier that really aroused Jones’ interest. England’s head coach noted how he spilt a simple catch but composed himself quickly and went on to score with a clever chip and chase.

“The first high ball I got I dropped near the touchline. I had someone screaming in my ear and I wasn’t paying attention,” Arundell said. “It was more just like a bounce-back type game. I had played previously in Premiership games and scored tries but they weren’t the performances I’d want entirely, not just scoring a good try.”

Arundell is in contention to travel to Australia next month with England and knows the key to maintaining his current trajectory is to continue following his instincts. “As soon as you start overthinking, that’s when you kind of lose that natural energy and that fun to play rugby,” he said.

“I have done a lot of stuff with psychologists about that and I think a lot of players do feel that as well. As soon as you start trying to do too much, you actually do worse. It is just reminding myself that I am only 19 and I have to keep enjoying myself and having fun.”



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