England hopeful hails Steve Borthwick’s personal touch as WhatsApp squad news a thing of the past

England head coach Steve Borthwick during a training session. Credit: Alamy

England head coach Steve Borthwick during a training session. Credit: Alamy

England back-row Ben Earl has praised the personal touch that Steve Borthwick brings as head coach, which he feels was lacking under predecessor Eddie Jones.

Earl revealed that under Jones the squad learned about 2019 Rugby World Cup selection on a WhatsApp group, but that is now a thing of the past under Borthwick.

Jones used the messaging app to inform the 31 players who would be taken to Japan if they had been chosen, with their names appearing in a newly-created group.

WhatsApp used regularly

WhatsApp was regularly employed during Jones’ tenure but Earl has talked about Borthwick’s personal touch when he interacts with players, which pleases many.

“With Steve it has been very much personal and that’s been great,” said Earl, with the Saracens flanker hoping to be a part of England’s 2023 World Cup campaign.

“I know a lot of players have enjoyed that side of it and not having to stay up late at night waiting to be added to a WhatsApp group, which I know a few people have experienced. That has been a really nice change.

“Obviously we are all dying to be involved. But if it’s not your day, it’s not your day. And then you’ve got to crack on.”

Earl is looking to press his way into the final 33-player group which will be announced on August 7 but knows the battle for squad places is a hotly contested one.

There are eight specialists across the three positions while Courtney Lawes, Maro Itoje and George Martin are options at blindside flanker as well as second-row.

“Within our structured game-plan, there is still massive scope to be the player you want to be. That is the magic of our back-row make-up,” a hungry Earl stated.

“There’s not one player who is the same as another. Every player has a strength and we’re all window-shopping, picking each little bit from each other and picking one another’s brains.

“The amount of experiences that the back-rowers have had this year is unbelievable. Jack Willis won the Top 14, Lewis Ludlam captained his club, Tom Pearson could have been player of the season in the Premiership and then you have Billy Vunipola and Alex Dombrandt, who have unbelievable international experience.

“Everyone is offering their little bit as best they can. There is obviously an elephant in the room with the competition, but it’s the healthiest and best environment I’ve been in.”

Underhill release a shock

Sam Underhill was recently released from the training squad by Borthwick, with Earl insisting that omission shines a light on their depth in the back-row stocks.

“I guess not many nations will have our competition. In 2019 Sam Underhill was probably one of the players of the tournament, so that just goes to show how competitive it is,” he said.

“Sam trained brilliantly and it was a shock to us all that he was no longer involved. That really struck home with us.”

READ MORE: Rugby World Cup: Two Cents Rugby maps out the potential routes to the final

The article England hopeful hails Steve Borthwick’s personal touch as WhatsApp squad news a thing of the past appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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