Six Nations 2024: England's defence is 'prepared to make mistakes', says Ben Earl

2 weeks ago 18
Ben EarlBen Earl says he is one of England's "senior players" in defence
Venue: Twickenham Stadium Date: Saturday, 10 February Kick-off: 16:45 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales & Radio Cymru; live text on BBC Sport website and app, watch on ITV1 & S4C

England will leave their "ego at the door" and be "prepared to make mistakes" in defence against Wales on Saturday, says number eight Ben Earl.

New defence coach Felix Jones introduced South Africa's blitz defence system, which he coached, in England's opening Six Nations victory over Italy.

The system had mixed results, with Italy scoring three tries in Rome.

"The shift in us now is that we are going to make mistakes," Earl, 26, told Rugby Union Daily.

"Some teams will go into their shells, but we are going to go harder.

"It has been; leave your ego at the door and prepare to make mistakes. That is pretty liberating as a player. If you know you are going to do your job - have that mentality and make mistakes."

Jones, the 36-year-old former Ireland international who was part of two successful World Cup campaigns with the Springboks, replaced Kevin Sinfield as England defence coach for the Six Nations.

World Cup-winning coach Jacques Nienaber said it took 14 games for the Springboks - who beat England in the semi-finals at France 2023 - to adjust to their new blitz defence system, which involves high line-speed and dominant one-on-one tackles.

"Felix has come in and has really laid it out for us and said - this is where we are at and where we want to go and where we should go," added Earl, who has 26 caps.

"It is individual and team based feedback. I have spent a lot of time with Felix, being a more senior player in defence.

"His [Jones'] laptop is a joke. The amount of files he has open and games he has watched and clips he shows us...

"He is going to a depth and intensity I have not seen from many coaches before. It has been great."

Greater England 'freedom' excites Monye

Steve Borthwick's side were outscored 3-2 by Italy in terms of tries last weekend, with the visitors' scores coming from wing Elliot Daly and scrum-half Alex Mitchell.

But former England and Lions wing Ugo Monye says the attacking potential of the new-look team excites him.

"To get any result against Wales at Twickenham, and for England to go two from two in such a big fixture, would satisfy me," Monye told Rugby Union Daily.

"I am very quietly loving this team. I don't know if it's as good as last year's team but the potential of this team is greater. There's a totally different energy and feel about it and that excites me. "I am often very excited about England teams but the distinct difference is this freedom they seem to have to show a bit more personality, to be less predictable.

"If that is the England we continue to see on the pitch they will continue to grow into the fullness of what I think they can be."

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