Fresh from helping Canterbury capture New Zealand’s historic Ranfurly Shield for the first time in six years, on-loan Saracens wing Nathan Earle has revealed why his mission Down Under could spell bad news for Chris Ashton and Sean Maitland.
Earle, a World Cup winner with England U20s in 2014, travelled south in May determined to prove that he had fully recovered from the horrific Achilles tendon injury he suffered while playing for Bedford at the start of the following season.
After turning out for Christchurch club side Sumner, Earle was promoted to Canterbury’s Mitre 10 Cup squad and has featured strongly in a side that top the league standings and defeated Waikato 29-23 away in last Wednesday’s Ranfurly challenge.
Earle, 22, told The Rugby Paper: “It was Canterbury’s first Shield challenge in six years and was a big deal in New Zealand. Being an Englishman some of the tradition is lost on me, but you immerse yourself in it and to win was a truly humbling experience.
“It was a properly tough game that went the full 80 minutes and to see the reaction of all the guys at the end showed what a big thing it is. We don’t really have an English equivalent of the Ranfurly Shield so it was a wicked thing to be part of.”
Earle, who expects to stay in New Zealand until the play-offs are completed in late October, says of his move: “I was lucky Sarries gave me the opportunity to come down here in May and I’ve been happy to get lots of game time at a high level.
“It’s been better than going on loan to a Championship club and it’s opened my eyes to a different style of rugby and how another club works.
“Scott Robertson, Canterbury’s head coach, came to Sarries in February to have a look around, after which Mark McCall asked me if I wanted to go to New Zealand. It was a no-brainer – it’s been great for my development and I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Having proved himself in a hard-nosed environment playing alongside All Blacks such as Luke Romano, Dominic Bird, Matt Todd and Luke Whitelock, Morris now has his heart set on fulfilling his ambition of a lengthy career at Saracens.
With Ashton suspended until late December, opportunity could soon knock for Earle, who vowed: “When I get back I’m going to do all I can to try and feature in the team because it’s a club I’d love to stay at and finish my career as a one-club man.
“Kevin Sorrell, our backs coach, and Mark have assured me I’m still in their plans, and that’s been good to know because with them signing Sean Maitland over the summer I was a bit disheartened about my chances of getting a game.
“You never want to leave a championship-winning club so my aim is to put pressure on Chris, Sean and all the other wingers. Saracens is a club I feel I should be representing and if I can get that shirt, I don’t think I’ll be letting it go easily.
“The plan is to compete straight for a first team jersey. I want to be in a position where the coaches have to pick me – like Maro Itoje in 2015!”
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