JAMIE George has fired a broadside at critics claiming England’s Cardiff defeat is evidence that Eddie Jones’ men are not yet mentally or tactically equipped to conquer the rugby globe.
The hooker denies the team has discipline issues and insists they are not bothered by what “outsiders” say about them.
Wales boss Warren Gatland said prop Kyle Sinckler has “demons”. But George was retaliating strongly to former Test fly-half Andy Goode singling out Sinckler and blaming his indiscipline during the 21-13 defeat at the Principality Stadium.
In a website attack, Goode accused Sinckler of losing his side the game by giving away two costly penalties but George defends his team-mate and insists: “It’s just laughable. It shows he clearly knows nothing about the game.
“I couldn’t care less what Andy Goode thinks but I do care about Kyle Sinckler. The bloke made how many tackles in 60 minutes! Then he gives away a penalty and suddenly everyone thinks it’s his fault. That’s very unfair.”
Yet it is clear that having been heralded for their excellent opening two victories over Ireland and France, the stinging criticism from former players has had an effect on the players who have spent the past week trying to work out what went wrong against turn.
Wales while making sure they react by putting Italy to the sword on Saturday.
George refutes any suggestion England’s World Cup chances have suddenly hit the rocks just because of 40 unhappy minutes in Cardiff but does admit the players have redressed their disiciplinary problems in private.
The Saracens forward admits: “People are all entitled to their opinion but the important thing is we focus on ourselves and what we are doing, and not let outside opinion influence where we are at in terms of physically, mentally and emotionally. It’s important we stay tight as a group. No matter what some say we do have a Plan B and can change things.
“This has been the most enjoyable period that I have ever had in an England team. We are creating a good culture and one loss doesn’t make us the worst team in the world unlike what some people may say.
“Of course discipline is crucial in any game. We also know we have an individual responsibility to make sure the team achieves what we want in terms of our discipline. We need to put our hands up when the game gets difficult. I need to make sure I put my hand up and keep influencing the game. I can get my hands on the ball more, make more dominant tackles and take hold of the set-pieces.”
George and his fellow forwards have again been going head to head again with the formidable Georgia pack as part of their build-up for the Italy contest. George shrugs off suggestions England’s beefcakes were given something of a roasting by the rugby beasts from the East a year ago, but admits it was a lot more even in the scrum stakes this time.
George, who expects a few more ferocious set-piece battles with the Italians than England have had so far in the Six Nations, says: “Georgians can certainly scrum.! They were built for it. It was a good test for us because they are strong and are well-drilled and now have Graham Rowntree as their coach. We faced them last year during a Six Nations fallow week so knew what was coming. We learned a lot from the lesson and, if anything, it shows we have developed as a pack. “
On Saturday’s match against Italy, he says: “We want to go out against Italy and show the English public that we love playing for England and love being at Twickenham.
“Italy are turning into a serious team under Conor O’Shea and we’re preparing for a very full on Test match. We want to put on a show for the Twickenham people. We want to play a good brand of rugby and play with a smile on our face and show the pride have of playing for England.”
GARY FITZGERALD / Photo: Getty Images