Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

We’re on the edge of something – Ben Earl says England out to show true colours

England take on Wales at Twickenham on Saturday.

Duncan Bech
Friday 11 August 2023 18:00 BST
Ben Earl starts in the back row against Wales (John Walton/PA)
Ben Earl starts in the back row against Wales (John Walton/PA) (PA Wire)

Ben Earl believes England are ready to turn a corner but are determined to let their rugby do the talking amid low expectations of what can be achieved at the World Cup.

England have lost their last three Tests and will sink to their lowest position of ninth in the 20-year history of the global rankings should they fall to Wales in Saturday’s clash at Twickenham.

Their most recent home appearance was a traumatising 53-10 rout by France in the Six Nations and there has been little evidence of an uplift since Steve Borthwick replaced Eddie Jones in December.

With a key World Cup opener against Argentina fast approaching on September 9, they need to reverse their fortunes – and Earl senses that moment is coming.

“We didn’t have a great Six Nations, which came off an average autumn, and there’s been a change of regime between the two,” Earl said.

“Steve talks about not talking but doing – and we’re right on the precipice of trying to show what we can do.

“There’s been a big challenge laid down by the coaching team and the players that it has to start transferring on to the pitch. We know that. There’s an onus on us and it’s the privilege we’ve got to show that this weekend.

“We’re training really well. We’re competing really hard. It’s one of the best environments we’ve all been in.

“We’re really enjoying each other’s company and it just feels like we’re on the edge of something.

“It might just take one game, it might take three games. It might take us to try and scrap our way out of the group and see what happens, but we’re trying really hard.”

The second of four warm-up Tests will be a special moment for Earl, whose 15 caps to date have all been won as a replacement since making his debut in 2020.

Unable to truly convince Jones of his talents – even while lighting up the Premiership as an all-action openside with a flair for attack – and then being sent back to Saracens during the Six Nations, he was in danger of being marooned on the margins.

But selection in England’s final 33-man World Cup squad has been followed by a place in the back row against Wales, giving him the platform to press his case for selection against Argentina.

Only Saracens and England team-mate Jamie George is disappointed that the stars might finally be aligning for the 25-year-old.

“There was a bit of an ongoing joke between us because Jamie has got the record of the most Test appearances off the bench without a start. I was two away,” Earl said.

“He’s a good mate of mine and he wasn’t the most proud to have that record. When he heard I was starting this weekend, I think he was quietly gutted.

“Not starting was something that was playing on my mind for sure. It’s no secret that my history with England has been a bit bizarre. It’s not just been one clear, upward curve.

“There have been times when you think it’s not going to happen, but you just crack on.”

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in