RUGBY : Ayoola Erinle will complete a remarkable career turnaround on Saturday if he earns his first England cap against Australia.
Ayoola Erinle will complete a remarkable career turnaround on Saturday if he earns his first England cap against Australia.
Twelve months ago, Erinle was on loan at Championship club Nottingham having failed to break into the Leicester team but he will be on the bench to face the Wallabies after having his game revitalised by a move to French Top 14 side Biarritz.
“If I am brutally honest, my prospects of playing for England were a dream that had been and gone. You try to hold on to it – but as time goes on, it starts to fade away,” said Erinle.
“When I went to Biarritz I just thought. ‘At least I will be playing rugby and enjoying myself’.
“Before that I was in a pretty dark place. I was questioning what the point was – but thank God I am in the position now.
“The Leicester coaches were apologetic about the fact I wasn’t really given a chance, and I had to make a decision. The opportunity came up at Biarritz, and I took it with both hands.
“I hope if I get the chance on Saturday to come off the bench I will vindicate the coaches’ decision to bring me into the 22.”
Erinle is relishing life in France, where a run of games in the Top 14 has rebuilt his shattered confidence.
“It is everything you envisage,” he said. “The French lifestyle is interesting – very laid-back – but they are hugely passionate about their rugby.
“They haven’t changed me as a player; they have just made me more confident by playing me week in and week out. I have had my longest run of games in quite a while.”