Earle relishing aerial barrage at Leicester

Thursday 15 September 2022 Written by: Adam

The 3pm kick-off at Mattioli Woods Welford Road sees the Falcons facing a Leicester side who kicked the ball more than any other last weekend, but Earle insists the visitors are prepared for what will be coming their way.

“It’s a small pitch and you know you’ll get a lot of ball kicked to you, so the challenge is not allowing yourself to switch off,” said the 27-year-old, who has won the Premiership title with both Saracens and Harlequins.

“That one moment where you allow your mind to drift is when a ball will come your way, and if you’re not ready for it that’s when they make you pay.

“They’re waiting for that error, and you’ve just got to understand as a winger that you’re going to be taking a lot of high balls. You’re going to get hit a lot because their chasers are gunning for you, but ultimately that’s the type of game I get excited for.

“As a winger I feel like high balls are my bread and butter, and I get to show one of the things I’m best at. I’m really looking forward to it if I’m selected, and I know the rest of the boys are as well.”

There are no points for style in rugby, but Earle believes there can be a hidden beauty in the kicking duel.

He said: “The kick battles aren’t the most interesting for people to watch, and I totally get that, but having been in the Saracens system earlier in my career it’s actually quite interesting once you understand all the nuances within it.

“It’s different to what a lot of teams in the Premiership want to do, but there’s no arguing with the fact it’s effective for them.

“They’re quite happy playing 60-70% of the game without the ball, knowing they’ll get one or two opportunities to come away with tries. It’s a style of rugby that requires a lot of concentration from both teams, but I’m sure we’ll be up to the task.”

Earle scored one of five Newcastle tries last weekend as they claimed a bonus point in a 40-31 home defeat to Harlequins, racing from inside his own 22 after picking off an interception.

“It was very frustrating because we’d put ourselves in a position where we were leading going into the final ten minutes,” said Earle, who also has an NPC title on his CV after his time on loan to Canterbury in New Zealand.

“We had the win within our sights, and that’s what differentiates the teams at the top to the teams nearer the bottom, the fact that they turned the screw in the closing stages.

“We need to learn to get better at that, and the frustrating part is we know we’ve got so much more in us but we’ve still ran a top-four team really close. It might not feel like it at the moment, but I think it’s a game which will put us in good stead moving forward.

“In terms of my own try, I wasn’t especially looking for the interception. It was probably just a bit of luck if I’m honest.

“I was defending our 22 so I was a tad more aggressive than anywhere else on the field, and it was just a case of their pass going awry and landing in my vicinity. I didn’t really start running for the first 10 metres because I thought the ref was going to come back for advantage, and when I looked up I thought ‘that try-line seems a long way away!’

“It’s fun to run fast, but I’d rather do it over 40 metres than 85!”

The Falcons are playing against Leicester for the second time inside a month after scoring four tries in a 42-28 pre-season defeat, Earle stating: “You never expect to play the champions away from home twice in the space of three weeks, and it’s one of those where the friendly was obviously arranged before the league fixtures came out.

“I think it’s good, though, and the lads are excited. Pre-season and the Premiership are two very different things, and I’m not sure how relevant the friendly will be. I’d expect a very different Leicester side, but they’re also coming off the back of a defeat and they’ll want a reaction just like we do.”

Entering his second season as a Falcon after joining from Harlequins, the winger had nothing but positivity when asked about the environment at Kingston Park.

“I’m really enjoying it up here,” he said.

“This season has been very different to the previous one, even though we’re only a couple of games in.

“From everyone at the club it has been a very positive period of change, and I don’t just mean the rugby side. It just feels like there’s a fresh energy around the place and a real collective motivation around the whole club.

“Everyone seems more aligned in terms of understanding what being a Newcastle Falcon is all about, and that’s great for the players. You feel like you’ve got the backing of the whole club, and it’s not the case that the rugby team is separate from everything else.

“I’ve enjoyed that change, and hopefully we can translate this new-found motivation, if that’s the right word, into some improved results on the field.”

Joining Earle in the back-three ranks is a former team-mate from his Saracens days, with Elliott Obatoyinbo this week signing a two-month deal.

“Elliott is a very relaxed guy – a very good golfer who plays off scratch, so he’ll be taking money off the lads if any of them take him on,” joked Earle.

“He’s a great rugby player, and I’m excited to see what he can do if and when he’s given an opportunity. He’s a big talent, and if I get the chance to play with him it’s a prospect I’d really look forward to.

“He’s pretty laid-back so it’s not as if I’ve had to babysit him, but of course I’ve helped him to understand our systems and how we go about things. The likes of Mark Laycock and Dave Walder on the coaching side have obviously done the bulk of that, but if there’s any way I can help then of course I’m happy to do so.

“He’s a quick learner, and it’s not taken him long to slot in.”

Saturday’s 3pm kick-off at Leicester is being streamed on PRTV Live.

[**Click here to buy your stream for £4.99.**][1]

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