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Ben Earl: England equipped to deal with ‘anything that’s thrown at us’

Steve Borthwick’s side take on Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Duncan Bech
Wednesday 21 February 2024 12:16 GMT
Ben Earl says England are ready for any niggle from Scotland (Mike Egerton/PA)
Ben Earl says England are ready for any niggle from Scotland (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Wire)

England are confident they have the composure to cope with any mind games played by Scotland in Saturday’s Calcutta Cup clash.

The rivals collide in round three of the Guinness Six Nations, with Gregor Townsend’s hosts aiming to continue their recent dominance of the fixture that reads three successive victories.

Adding to the challenge of facing one of the most talented sides in Scottish history is the hostile atmosphere awaiting England at Murrayfield.

England fly-half George Ford was targeted in the tunnel by Ryan Wilson in 2018, sparking a brawl when Owen Farrell intervened, and the team bus is customarily held up by bagpipers.

Other tactics used in the past to unsettle the ‘Auld Enemy’ have been turning off the hot water in the changing room and disruption to their warm-up by entertainers.

England are on alert for niggle during the build up to the match and on the pitch itself, but number eight Ben Earl is backing his side to take any Scottish machinations in their stride.

“There’s a resilience in us, for sure,” said Earl, who is set to continue in the back row when Steve Borthwick names his team on Thursday afternoon.

“There is a good group of experienced players in this team now – Jamie (George), George Ford, Joe Marler, Dan Cole, Ellis Genge. Those guys are all different characters, but they’ve seen all the curve balls in the past.

“And then you’ve also got a group of lads who might not have played a load of Test rugby but who have played a lot of club rugby in some great games and in some great stadiums.

“So I’d say the group, in terms of expectation, is probably as prepared as any to deal with anything that’s thrown at us.

“You have to love it. If you don’t love it, then you’re playing the wrong sport at the wrong level. I absolutely love it.

“We’ve certainly spoken about the kind of Scotland are, what a good team they are, how good they are at home.

“It’s a tough place to play and we’ve definitely touched upon the trend of results over the last three or four years.

“But in terms of motivating factors, that’s one of many that we’ve got. We know the journey that we’re on as a team, in terms of what we’re trying to grow and evolve into. And that’s as much of a motivating factor as playing those guys.”

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