Saracens back-row Ben Earl is looking to press his case for a Rugby World Cup spot when he takes on Sale Sharks in the Premiership final this weekend.
Earl is expected to be an influential figure in the Twickenham fixture and admits that putting in a strong shift in front of Steve Borthwick is on his mind.
While he was named in England‘s squad for this year’s Six Nations, Earl played just 52 minutes in what were his only two Test outings since March 2021.
Borthwick instead opted for the likes of Ben Curry, Jack Willis and Lewis Ludlam, with the Saracens flanker eager to prove his worth at HQ on Saturday.
Putting his best foot forward
“The moment you start looking for excuses, the moment you start thinking I am just unlucky, my face doesn’t fit, is probably the moment you give somebody the reason to drop you,” he said on his England experience.
“I’ve kind of got to stay with it. Steve was unbelievably positive about my work in the Six Nations.
“Unfortunately, selection didn’t always go my way, but I am trying to stay positive and put my best foot forward in these big games, which are probably the games he is looking at the most.
“I think I have played as consistently as I did last year, which was a big challenge of mine.
“There is no point winning some of the accolades I did last year and not backing it up. Selfishly, the elephant in the room is that I wish I could have played a bit more for England in that Six Nations campaign.
“For whatever reason, I didn’t, and I have learnt a lot from that. I am looking forward to going again, putting my best foot forward in these big games, which has been a big focus of mine.
“The moment that you stop performing, you give someone an easy reason not to pick you. That is a big thing.
“On the flip-side, if I get a chance to play a Test match this summer, it’s got to be good.
“You look at how competitive my position is, it always feels that the person who slips up first is going to be the one that misses out.”
Saracens will this weekend be looking to banish the agony of last season’s Premiership final when a Freddie Burns drop-goal saw Leicester claim the title.
Earl is understandably determined to make some happy memories at Twickenham as Sarries go in search of a sixth Premiership title in the past 13 seasons.
Win would be everything for Earl
“It would mean everything to me,” he added. “The amount of times I have carried bags for games like these when I was a bit younger, I have always wanted to celebrate a win.
“Coming a little bit short last year has only made this group hungrier and me hungrier. To win the league after such a long slog with your boyhood club would be everything, really.
“In the 12 months I’ve learnt a huge amount in terms of getting myself right mentally, and what I can give the team if I am right. Hopefully, I can show that on Saturday.”
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