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England willing to go to 'dark places' for NZ scalp

NEWS: England captain Jamie George is confident in his side’s ability to snap a 21-year drought in New Zealand.

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George believes England possesses the requisite cohesion to upset New Zealand in Dunedin this coming Saturday – a feat they’ve not been able to replicate since 2003.

Coming off a satisfactory 2024 Six Nations campaign where they employed a more expansive style compared to the 2023 World Cup, they managed to upset eventual winners Ireland and came within two points against France to end their campaign in third.

George feels there was more improvement in their 52-17 victory over Japan in Tokyo last week, and although New Zealand is a bigger threat, he believes their preparation couldn’t be better.

“Regardless of who we play against now, I see opportunity everywhere within this team,” he said.

“We wanted to use the momentum of the Six Nations to try and create an identity.

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“This week has got that feel. We’re feeling fit, we’re feeling ready to go and we want to take these guys on,” George said.

The veteran hooker is just one of four players who played in New Zealand before in what is a relatively young squad but he states that it’s important that his teammates don’t feel inhibited.

He said players such as 21-year-old wing Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, who was a standout for Exeter Chiefs with his tackle-busting runs, could make an impact in the two-Test series.

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“He’s picked for a reason. He’s got absolute superpowers in his body that I would love to have and I will never have,” George said.

“So go out there and do it. Don’t be afraid of holding back. What we want to make sure we do is throw everything at this.”

George said that he took many lessons from the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand where he started int all three Tests in the drawn series.

The importance of gaining the initiative was evident in England’s 19-7 semifinal win over New Zealand, who were dubbed as favourites at the 2019 World Cup.

“That’s one of the best games that I’ve ever been a part of because we all lived up to the occasion,” George said.

“Sometimes when you’re in games like that, or occasions like that, it allows you to go to a place that you probably never thought you were capable of going.

“We’re going to have to go to some dark places to get a win in Dunedin on Saturday,” he said.

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