England: Jamie George eyes improved forward performance against the Springboks

Dylan Coetzee
Jamie George England v Australia 2022 - PA.jpg

England hooker Jamie George says a physical battle against South Africa is an ideal challenge after a “poor performance” in the tight five against the All Blacks.

George admits that the team is looking to bounce back after a bittersweet draw that saw England come back from 25-6 after 72 minutes to tie 25-25 at Twickenham last weekend.

Hoping to bounce

The next challenge is the physical Springboks in their final fixture of the Autumn Nations Series, and George knows the forwards have work to do against the South Africans.

“That’s been the talk all week,” he 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.

“Players have been really accountable to that and what better than testing yourself against one of the best packs in the world?

“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.”

George admits the players have taken charge after the draw against the All Blacks as the team looks for an explanation for a poor first-half performance from England last time out.

“A lot of things this week have been more player-led,” he revealed.

“Kyle Sinckler said he wants to do more scrum set-ups and when you hear your tighthead 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.”

Behind the decision to kick it out

After the All Blacks clash, the big talking point was whether England should have gone for the win or kicked the ball out as Marcus Smith did.

George reveals he was happy with the ball being kicked out because of the risks of attacking against the All Blacks.

“I was probably more, ‘Kick it out’,” he said.

“I know there is a lot of criticism around it and I can understand that. On the field at the time, where we had come back from was incredible.

“We did have a length-of-the-field try at one stage but that doesn’t happen that often against the All Blacks. When you do it once, they smarten up.

“It’s always dangerous to play in your own half. We would have been confident we could break them down but the risk was probably too high at that point so I think it was the right call.”

READ MORE: Autumn Nations Series: Five storylines to watch ahead of the final week’s action as teams hunt much-needed victories