Sam Underhill, one of the stars at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, has broken his silence over last month’s rejection by England. The back-rower had been part of Steve Borthwick’s training squad for France 2023, but he was dramatically cut loose on July 17, a decision that reportedly sent shockwaves through the camp.
The 27-year-old has since returned to Bath to prepare for the upcoming Gallagher Premiership season, but he has now lifted the lid on his summer experience with England.
In quotes carried on somersetlive.co.uk, Underhill explained: “I was gutted when I was let go, more so because it was genuinely enjoyable and because of my personal ambition.
“It was a great environment and personality wise it is a great coaching set-up, very straightforward. It was lots of honest hard work and it was enjoyable when it was time to relax and have time to get to know each other.
“I’m glad and grateful I got to go. I hope I made a good impression when I was there but the last week I was there, there were 10 back rows and something had to give,” he explained.
Underhill went on to insist that England fans must keep the faith in the squad despite their poor Summer Nations Series form this month leading into the September 9 Rugby World Cup opener versus Argentina in Marseille.
“I was impressed by the environment. It is one of the best I have seen, and I think regardless of the knee-jerk public outcry there is a lot of good stuff to come out of that group. There is a lot of latent learning which fans and the public don’t see when they are not in the environment.
“You are learning something and it doesn’t mean you have got it yet, but it will click and when it does people will turn around and go, ‘Oh right, that is way better’. That is what you are going to see with this England team.
“I happened with us [Bath] last season. Towards the end of the season, it really took off and all that learning we had been doing during the season, which you didn’t really see on the field, came to fruition.
“It’s the same with international rugby, you have just got to learn much quicker, and that learning curve has to be quicker. But it is premature to write a team off after a couple of bad games because they are going through a transitory, learning phase.”