It is phenomenal – Ben Earl predicted how Ireland game would unfold

Ben Earl was at the forefront of England’s seismic victory over Ireland after predicting to Steve Borthwick the impact he intended to have at Twickenham.

Earl has followed up his outstanding World Cup with an equally impressive Guinness Six Nations that has been rewarded with man-of-the-match awards against Wales and Andy Farrell’s champions.

The Saracens number eight was magnificent in Saturday’s 23-22 upset to continue his surge towards world-class status, bossing Ireland’s back row and barging over for a vital 60th-minute try as one of numerous powerful carries.

Ben Earl scoring England's third try against Ireland
Ben Earl scored England’s third try against Ireland (Mike Egerton/PA)

In a sign of his growing confidence, Earl told his head coach hours before the game how he expected his 29th cap to unfold.

“I sat with Ben on Saturday morning. He talked and showed me what he wanted to do against Ireland. And he pretty much did exactly what he said to me. That is down to him delivering that,” Borthwick said.

“It is phenomenal the thought process he is going through and how ambitious he is as a player to get better.

“Ben played his first 15 games off the bench. Even in last year’s Six Nations he played a run of games and then he was out.

“I think he feels backed. I get the impression he feels he is growing as a player and he wants to keep getting better.”

By defying expectations to topple the defending champions, England revived their title ambitions heading into the final weekend even if Ireland remain firmly in the driving seat.

A courageous gameplan that placed an emphasis on attack was well executed with the try count won 3-2, providing redemption after an error-strewn defeat by Scotland a fortnight ago.

Had England not imploded at Murrayfield, they could have been challenging for the Grand Slam themselves but Borthwick has been careful not to rebuke his young team.

“Post the Scotland game, there was evidence that the weight of the shirt was on the players,” he said.

“I believe we need to create a supportive environment. Everybody involved with English rugby is under incredible scrutiny. That’s just the way it is.

“There’s incredible expectation and I’d rather be involved in a team where there is expectation upon it than not.

“But with that I want to make sure that young players are coming into a supportive environment. I want to see their point of difference on the grass.

“Mistakes are going to happen and we are understanding of that, but we don’t want to repeat mistakes. We have got to learn fast.

“The team went through a difficult experience at Murrayfield, reviewed it properly and then addressed it on the training field.

“The players weren’t perfect against Ireland, they made mistakes, but at Murrayfield I thought we made a mistake and then went into ourselves, played a little bit small.

“Against Ireland they made errors and got into the next battle. If there is anything I can encourage the players to do, it is go into the next battle.”