Rugby

Ben Earl convinced England can prove critics wrong in last-eight Fiji showdown

Ben Earl is not moved by England’s perceived snub from world XVs (David Davies/PA)
Ben Earl is not moved by England’s perceived snub from world XVs (David Davies/PA) Ben Earl is not moved by England’s perceived snub from world XVs (David Davies/PA)

Ben Earl insists England have noted their absence from composite Rugby World Cup teams as they look to prove their critics wrong in Sunday’s World Cup quarter-final against Fiji.

England completed their group campaign with a full set of four victories yet few are expecting them to challenge for South Africa’s global crown despite being placed in the easier side of the draw.

Earl has been Steve Borthwick’s star performer in France and would be pushing hard for inclusion in teams comprising the World Cup’s best players, but the general snub has not been overlooked by the squad.

England’s Ben Earl and Marcus Smith during a training session
England’s Ben Earl and Marcus Smith during a training session England’s Ben Earl and Marcus Smith during a training session (Mike Egerton/PA)

“You see a lot of stuff on social media about world XVs and stuff and there’s probably not a huge amount of representation from England in that regard,” the Saracens back row said.

“A lot of people don’t think there’s that many of us in there. You always want to be in those conversations. In terms of voicing concerns about it? Not really. We know a lot of our team have been in those positions before.

“It’s just an opinion, but at the same time we know the quality we’ve got. We know that on any given day, when some of the players we have got on our team turn up we become a very, very hard team to beat.

“These are the stages that we want to be involved in. You find out a lot about your team-mates, find out a lot about yourself. We’ll be expecting big performances.

“We’ve been speaking a lot all week about it being time for our big game players to start turning up. We’ve all got a responsibility to do that.

“It’s kind of now or never. No one wants to be flying back to London on Monday morning, so we’re going to out there and perform our best and see what happens.”

Danny Care is among a number of senior players who could be making their final appearances for England and the veteran scrum-half admits there is no margin for error against Fiji, who stormed Twickenham 30-22 in August.

“It’s what you dream about, being involved in games like this. It’s the chance of a lifetime,” Care said.

“We’re fully focused on Fiji and we have to be because we know how dangerous Fiji are. If we’re slightly off it, then we will be going home. That’s the stark reality of it.

“We know the significance of this game and how much it means to us, how much it means to the people back home. We’re dying to get out there.

“For someone like me, you know this could be the last time I put on an England shirt so I’m going to give it my all.

“Any time I play for England, it means everything. But when you know you’re kind of coming to the end of your journey in that shirt you want to do yourself proud and your family proud.

“I want to make it worthwhile that I’ve been away for five months and you don’t do that by coming home after the quarter-final. We’re really excited to get out there and show what we can do.”