England 'hurting' ahead of Bok clash
SPOTLIGHT: Jamie George believes a match against South Africa represents the “perfect test” for an England pack still “hurting” after their display in last week’s thrilling 25-25 draw with New Zealand.
The All Blacks overwhelmed England early on up front at Twickenham, and with 10 minutes left were 19 points ahead before the hosts fought back with three tries in the closing stages to finish a dramatic match all square.
England end their November series programme against the Springboks at Twickenham on Saturday, with England hooker George eager to face the world champions once again.
“That’s been the talk all week,” George said. “It’s the perfect test for us as a front five off the back of a poor performance against New Zealand.
“The way we scrummaged and mauled is not the England standard and we’re fully aware of that.”
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#ICYMI: England forward coach Matt Proudfoot has opened up on the “mindset challenge” his team will face in the scrums against the Springboks. 👇#England #SouthAfrica #Springboks #ENGvRSA https://t.co/6ywFIQ6rA9
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) November 24, 2022
South Africa got the better of England up front on their way to a convincing 32-12 win in the 2019 World Cup Final in Japan and George believes facing the Springboks’ forwards is the ideal way to finish this calendar year.
“Players have been really accountable to that and what better than testing yourself against one of the best packs in the world?,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of respect for them but we’re hurting from our performance at the weekend and we want to make sure we get things right.”
England coach Eddie Jones, due to name his side on Thursday, has often been accused of exerting too much control over the squad.
But George said the veteran Australian boss and his staff had put the onus on players to lead the way during training when trying to fix the problems evident in a lacklustre first-half against the All Blacks.
“A lot of things this week have been more player-led,” George explained. “Kyle Sinckler said he wants to do more scrum set-ups and when you hear your tighthead [prop] talking about that, that gives you a huge amount of confidence.
“It’s little things like that. Also the way Maro Itoje has taken on the line-out and the maul is impressive.
“It’s impressive of the coaches to allow them to grow into those roles as well because, off the back of a pretty mediocre performance, coaches sometimes try and take over and put all their input on it.
“But they have given the players confidence and said, ‘Go and fix the problem’ and they have fed in as and when needed.”