Graham Wilson meets Kearnan Myall – England Saxon

With England Saxons meeting the Irish Wolfhounds at Sandy Park this weekend, The Drop thought it was only right to have a chat with some of the players. Saxons and Sale Sharks lock Kearnan Myall was kind enough to talk to The Drop’s Graham Wilson about what the England second string’s chances are on Saturday and what’s going on in the Saxons camp this month.

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GW: So, Kearnan, it's been the big story for the last couple of weeks. What are your thoughts on Stuart Lancaster's appointment as Head Coach of England? Do you think he's got the skill and experience to coach the senior side to some silverware this campaign?

KM: I do. I actually know Stuart Lancaster very well. He was the first coach to offer me a contract when I was fifteen at Leeds, so I've worked with him a lot through the years in the academy at Leeds and in the Saxons and he's an extremely good coach at developing young players and that's reflected in the squad that he's picked. It's missing the traditional old heads you'd normally see in an England squad. There's a lot of young guys there, in form, playing well in the Premiership, which I really think is going to freshen the England team up and give them a new lease of life.

GW: Yeah, I was going to ask about that. For example, the decision to drop players like Tindall and Nick Easter. Obviously Easter had a good World Cup, but he's been dropped in favour of players like Ben Morgan.

KM: It's a risky tactic but bringing in a new coach like Stuart, giving him free range to do what he wants. In all honesty, nobody's really expecting anything from him. It was a thoroughly disappointing World Cup so with the Six Nations they're not realistically expecting to go out and win a grand slam. I think the squad that he's picked is more a squad aimed towards the next World Cup, allowing young players to come through and letting go players like Mark Cueto and Mike Tindall, who have done a great job in the past, and you'd expect them to be in this year's Six Nations squad, but he's left them out and he's very much looking forward.

GW: His decision to pick younger players is affecting the Saxons in quite a big way. You've lost players like Callum Clark, Chris Robshaw and Phil Dowson. Do you reckon that's going to affect your game today, losing a back row like that?

KM: I think the good thing about England is that there's so many good young players. The people you named have all been called up from the Saxons squad but equally there are players like Matt Banahan who have dropped down from the World Cup squad who have experience, props like Paul Doran-Jones and the opportunities have just opened up. For example Saracens' scrum half, Ben Spencer, it's opened up an opportunity for him. He's been playing with the Under-20s at the beginning of the week and he's been called up and he's starting tonight so it gives players like him a great chance.

GW: I see you have a very young half-back pairing. Ryan Lamb’s on the bench while Freddie Burns is starting ahead of him. Why do reckon that is?

KM: I can't give you the exact reasons why, but both players have been playing very well in the Premiership. They're different players, we've got two weeks, I think it's giving everyone a chance to get a game. I expect you will see both of them in the games against Ireland and Scotland to varying to degrees but, like I said, it's all about giving players to opportunity to showcase themselves.

GW: This afternoon you've got a big hitting back line. You've got Delon Armitage, Banahan, Ugo Monye…are you planning on going for a more direct approach to today's game, hitting it up or a more tactics based game?

KM: Well with a back three like that, the whole emphasis at training this week has been playing with width and I think that's been reflected in the team that's been picked and it's a very exciting back three so you can see that if the weather stays good then some expansive rugby will be played and hopefully some tries scored.

GW: Talking about the selection, you obviously play with James Gaskell at Sale, and he's been picked as captain today; what's he like as a leader? Do you think he's got the clout to steer you to a victory today?

KM: Yeah, I do. Obviously I know him from my club. He's a player that will go out there and play his own game very well and that's what you need in a leader, someone who will go out there and lead by example. He's not going to be type that's shouting at us and getting us up for it, he'll be playing his own game and we'll follow. I think the boys are all behind him and him being picked for captain.

GW: What would you say was your most embarrassing moment as a player?

KM: Um, well once when I was playing for Leeds, I was playing number 8 and I picked up from the base and I ran about 20 metres before someone pulled from behind and literally ripped my shorts off clean down my knees, which was pretty embarrassing in front of people.

GW: I can imagine! In the same sort of vein, what's the funniest thing you've ever seen on a rugby pitch.

KM: I've seen a number of funny things. It's hard to pick one out. I remember watching a team we were playing against, I think it was Gloucester and the scrum-half passed the fly-half a ball when he didn't want it and the fly-half just completely lost his head in the middle of the game and just kicked the ball straight back at the scrum half. It's very rare you see Premiership players lose their heads in that manner.

GW: Let’s hope that doesn’t happen against the Wolfhounds this evening. If you weren't playing rugby what would you like to be doing?

KM: I'd like to work in finance. I'm doing a degree in economics at the moment. I think when I'm done with rugby I'll try and get a job in finance. I think if I wasn't playing rugby now that's what I'd be doing.

GW: Who has the best banter in the Saxons squad?

KM: Best banter in the Saxons squad…there's a few lads actually, quite a few people with some good chat. Ryan Lamb's certainly a character and the likes of Ugo Monye and Delon Armitage have a lot of chat as well, so it's probably between those three.

GW: Do you have any strange rituals you go through before a game?

KM: No, not particularly actually, I'm pretty boring with that. I think the days of people doing weird things are kind of gone, so no, I don't really.

The England Saxons went on to claim a 23 – 17 win over the Irish Woolfhounds with Kearnan Myall performing well and playing for most of the second half.

Watch out for Graham Wilson’s Six Nations Preview of England and Scotland before their game this weekend!