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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Friday, September 25th 2020

Earl credits connections for sensational Bears transition

Of the many challenges Ben Earl expected to face when transitioning from one club to another in the midst of the rugby’s most chaotic ever season, learning the name of an All Black’s dog certainly wasn’t one of them.

The England back row has slotted seamlessly into a rampant Bears side still battling on both fronts as the 2019/20 campaign reaches a compelling crescendo.

Earl has already scored five tries and earned two man of the match awards in just seven appearances for the Bears, and the on-loan dynamo attributes much of his sensational switch to the emphasis put on relationships by Director of Rugby, Pat Lam – including some of his colleagues’ finer details.

“We had this meeting at the beginning of our mini pre-season and Pat (Lam) sat me down and said: who are you closest to in the squad? Obviously, I've said Max and a few other boys that I’ve played with, and he was like, what about positionally? And I said I get along with a few of the boys. Pat then asked me what was Steven Luatua’s dog's name - and I had absolutely no idea, so he made you rate my relationship out of eight with everyone in the back row and I think I've realised that I only knew one of the players girlfriend's names. So, after that I asked every player and now, I know all of their names.

“So, relationships are only improving but it just shows that he (Pat Lam) knows everything about all the players and once you know the individual, you can work with the player – that’s a big lesson and a big feather in his bow.

“I've really enjoyed working with Pat. You hear stuff before you go in and obviously everyone has their own experience with the DOR but his and my personality, they just seem to click, and it works quite well.

“He’s a great straight talker in terms of what he wants from the group and what he wants from the individual - he doesn't leave much unsaid.

“You’ve just got to enjoy working under the amount of clarity that he gives the players, and it's just brilliant. He's someone that you really want to play for. He's got a voice that you could listen to all day, so yeah, we're really enjoying it.

“He's big on relationships with players - we heard that's one of the reasons why Semi Radradra came to Bristol, because they've got on so well when he was coaching the Barbarians a few seasons ago.”

A jam-packed schedule post restart has presented a number of challenges for players and coaches alike, but Earl insists the Bears are enjoying getting stuck into a three-month festival of rugby and the momentum it enables you to build.

“Although there was quite a lot of uproar about the scheduling, I think most people have found it, certainly on the Bristol side of things, okay.

“The club have been brilliant - how they've managed us in terms of training load, because at the end of the day, that's what really gets you, it's not the games, it's how quickly you turn around and get back into an intense training regime.

“So, it's about managing people and rotation and there are templates in place in terms of how many minutes you can play - but the humanity side comes into it and they've been brilliant with us.

“We just have to keep playing rugby - I think, when you're playing well, you just want the next game to come as quickly as you can, because you just you just want to get back out there and keep going off that wave.

“We've got a massive game against Bordeaux this weekend, who are an incredibly dangerous team and a bit of an unknown entity to us.

“We've got we've got a big challenge ahead of us and it's one that we're really excited for.”


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