Saracens back-row Ben Earl has already been called up into the England senior squad – find out more about him here
Hotshot: Saracens and England U20 back-row Ben Earl
Date of birth 7 January 1998 Born Redhill, Surrey Club Saracens Country England Position Back-row
What sports did you play growing up?
I did much more cricket than rugby. I was an all-rounder and played for Kent until I was 15. I also did swimming until I was 13. I was third in the country at freestyle but I stopped because it wasn’t taken seriously at my new school.
So when did you get into rugby?
I was 11 or 12 when I first touched a rugby ball and I was much bigger than everyone else, so I found it reasonably easy. It’s got progressively harder as I’m still the same size! I started at Tonbridge School and then joined my local club, Sevenoaks.
I didn’t think much about anything professional until I was 16. Once I got picked for England U16 I thought I’d give it a bash.
What positions have you played?
I started at centre/wing, then progressively moved forward. I moved to the back row at 15 – I wasn’t sure about mauling; I’ve only recently found its value being at Saracens.
Who was your childhood hero?
My family are really into golf so Tiger Woods. I admired his passion – it’s all about winning. My handicap is 11 or 12 on a good day, but the next day I’ll have a shocker.
Who’s been the biggest influence on your career?
Rory Teague got me into a professional mindset. He was my academy coach at Saracens and got me to knuckle down and be disciplined. When I was 17, I was overweight and I didn’t understand the value of being fit. Ian Peel is another big influence and Dean Ryan gives advice.
What’s your preferred position?
Seven. There are certain responsibilities at eight you don’t have at seven. You have more freedom defensively and in attack, making it more suited to the player I am.
What do you do away from rugby?
I’m studying comparative literature at Queen Mary University. You compare texts from the same culture or period or genre. Recently I did an essay comparing the book The Reader to the film Fahrenheit 451.
Your faith is also important to you…
I went to Tonbridge School and was confused as to why we spent so much time in chapel, so I thought I should find out more. It’s not always about rugby but life in general; it probably offers a bit of perspective if things are going well or not so well.
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RW VERDICT: Earl scored a try on his first Premiership start – against Exeter – and has captained England U20. His maturity is evident and he was called into the England squad for the tour of South Africa.
This article originally appeared in the July 2018 issue of Rugby World magazine. Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.