Feature Interview | Ben Earl
Ben Earl has proved his leadership credentials and relished the opportunity and the honour of being Saracens captain during the last block of Premiership games with the so many of the squad away on international duty.
The dynamic backrower led by example as Sarries have swept all before them in an impressive start to their Gallagher Premiership campaign.
Saracens will be looking to take that form into Europe when they return to Heineken Champions cup, with a record of lifting European silverware in 2016, 2017 and 2019 behind them.
The Men in Black welcome Scottish side Edinburgh rugby to the StoneX stadium on Sunday. It will be the club’s first Heineken Champions Cup Pool match for 35 months.
Earl, 24, has taken the mantle of skipper with real aplomb and the 13-times England international has revealed he has enjoyed the extra responsibility the role demands.
“I have really enjoyed it, with so many experienced players away, and we have seen the results we have had in that block and I was really happy with how it went,” said Earl.
“I don’t think it was a challenge, really, because I have learnt so much from all the leaders we have in the squad. When you have players like Eliot Daly and those kind of players with so much experience around you, it was easy really.
“It meant I could crack on by playing well and leading that way. So it was really enjoyable and is something I am keen to do again.
“The key thing was to make sure I played well myself and I do believe, and we believe at Saracens, that leading is by doing, and that was my focus and just saying something when it was needed.
“I do think it’s about performing in that role, I don’t think you get what you want by shouting and it’s just about a quiet word now and then and leading by example on and off the field.
“You want the guys to follow suit and do the same.
“It’s always an honour to play for this club, every time you pull on the jersey, to lead your mates is just the cherry on top for me.”
Sarries have won all nine in the Premiership and are just three behind Newcastle's record start in the 1997-98 campaign when they won their first 12 matches on their way to winning the title, by a point, from Saracens.
“The block we had with the England internationals away went really well and that was amazing, and really showed what we are about as a squad and as a club,” said Earl.
“We carried ourselves and performed and that’s down to the professionalism of the boys and we have put ourselves in good position during a time of the season which is always a challenge.
“There were boys, who maybe don’t get the acknowledgement they deserve, and they showed what they bring to Saracens too.”
Earl reveals that the squad has already talked about the prospect and challenge of being back in Heineken Champions Cup rugby after a couple of seasons of being absent.
“We had a pretty emotional meeting about being back in this competition,” said Earl.
“It was about the joy and excitement around being back involved in the Champions Cup and the responsibility we have to raise our level of performance to give us a win.
“The European competition is probably the most competitive in the world and that only excites players because it’s a challenge. To be back involved is where Saracens want to be.”
Earl wasn’t in the Saracens side that were defending European champions and were knocked out by Racing 92 in a semi-final thriller back in 2020, but he does have vivid memories of that clash.
“I wasn’t involved in that game but I was watching from Bristol in a pub,” said Earl.
“I remember it was an amazing game and the boys were ahead and I remember watching the Leinster game, the week before too, and that was an unbelievable game.
“I watched the game and I know the boys played with real pride in both those games and the Racing game just got away from us. We are all just looking forward to having another good run in the competition this time around.”