Rising stars: Nathan Earle
There aren’t too many things that can slow rapid winger Nathan Earle down, but a ruptured Achilles is one.
Only months after helping England surge to a World Rugby U20 Championship victory in 2014, scoring six tries in five matches, Earle suffered the injury to his heel that put him out of action for nearly a whole season.
An agonising rehabilitation process was a serious setback to his progression at Saracens and left him out of contention for a full international debut that seemed inevitable after his U20s performance.
Thankfully for the speedster, an opportunity arose to travel to the other side of the world in search of game time and a culture that would lend itself to his breath-taking pace.
Flying high in Canterbury
Earle went to New Zealand in May 2016, after struggling to make the Saracens first team, a move which proved to be the making of the youngster.
“Over there it was far more fluid and there was far more room for… I wouldn’t say creativity, but it allowed people to go off-script more,” he said.
“The strike mentality is different, as well. As soon as there is a break, everyone is flooding on to the ball. Generally, opportunities are finished.”
Initially travelling to Christchurch to play club rugby, Earle quickly impressed and was kept on to play provincial rugby for Canterbury, where he won the Ranfurly Shield and the Mitre 10 Cup, New Zealand’s leading provincial competition.
The flowing rugby that is native to southern hemisphere sides enhanced Earle’s clinical finishing and eye for an opportunity, and on his return to England the winger began to turn heads once more.
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) June 6, 2018
Back with a bang
His electric wheels, combined with the experience in New Zealand that shaped his attacking sense, led to an England call-up to face the Barbarians in May 2017, and the winger didn’t disappoint.
Scoring a try and making countless breaks, he proved he could handle himself at the highest level, which led to his selection for the 2017 summer tour to Argentina.
Full of confidence from that summer, Earle has doubled his Aviva Premiership Rugby appearance tally and more than doubled his try count in the league this season.
He scored seven tries in 14 games in the most recent campaign putting him in Saracens’ top five scorers.
World Cup Dreams
Eddie Jones showed further faith in him by selecting the winger for England’s Six Nations campaign earlier this year but once again, the Saracen was forced to be patient for that full England cap.
Yet, just as he wouldn’t let a torn Achilles stop him, Earle displayed his resolute attitude and was brought on in the Aviva Premiership Rugby final against Exeter Chiefs, where he scored the final try of the match to help Saracens lift the trophy at Twickenham.
It seems Earle’s ability and potential cannot be ignored, as once more he was included in England’s squad to tour South Africa this summer, creating the sense that the 23-year old is on the cusp of Jones’ World Cup plans.
A strong season at his new club Harlequins, who he’ll join this summer, will boost his chances, but one thing that is guaranteed is that when the chance arises, Earle won’t let anything get in his way.
History has shown, he’s a hard man to stop.