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Jamie George to use Lions boost to leapfrog Dylan Hartley

by 11/10/2017 19:36:00 0 comments 1 Views
  • The Saracens hooker is ready for his latest head-to-head with Hartley
  • The 26-year-old believes he can help him usurp the England captain
  • George was the starting hooker for the Lions against the All Blacks

By Chris Foy for the Daily Mail

Published: 17:29 EDT, 11 October 2017 | Updated: 19:36 EDT, 11 October 2017

Jamie George will go into his latest head-to-head with Dylan Hartley believing his Lions experiences can help him usurp the England captain in the national team.

The 26-year-old was the starting hooker for Warren Gatland's British and Irish side against the All Blacks and he has returned to Saracens with enhanced optimism about his Test prospects.

He will confront Hartley and Northampton in a Champions Cup tie at Franklin's Gardens on Sunday evening with greater belief in his game and his leadership credentials.

Saracens hooker Jamie George is ready for his latest head-to-head with Dylan Hartley
Saracens hooker Jamie George is ready for his latest head-to-head with Dylan Hartley

Saracens hooker Jamie George is ready for his latest head-to-head with Dylan Hartley

'I took a huge amount from that Lions tour and feel like I have developed as a player hugely on the back of it,' said George on Wednesday.

'It has given me increased confidence but a bigger expectation of myself. The second Test was one I was particularly proud of, so that is where I set the standard now. All my performances are based on that. I was proud of the intensity of how I played and the physicality. That is the benchmark. I have watched that game enough times and I can't live off it, but I am fully aware where I need to be emotionally and physically on Sunday to be at my best.'

George has become a familiar understudy to Hartley in Eddie Jones' England squad but the quality of his performances for club and country have led to a regular debate about the hooker selection. For now, Jones remains committed to his inspirational skipper, but the younger man is not ready to settle for a long-term future on the bench.

The 26-year-old believes he can help him usurp the England captain in the national team
The 26-year-old believes he can help him usurp the England captain in the national team

The 26-year-old believes he can help him usurp the England captain in the national team

'I've never wanted to be second choice, but it's the way it has fallen,' he said. Asked what he has to do to claim the starting place, George added: 'I don't know because if I did, I'd be doing it. The message from the coaches is that the consistency of my performances needs to remain high. I can't have periods where I'm in and out of games.'

His sterling exploits for the Lions have armed him with the conviction that he can become more of a leader and vocal figure within the England set-up. 'I do feel that and I feel my relationship with the coaches has got better off the back of it,' he said. 'I do feel a lot more confident.

'I want to bring my leadership style to my game. I feel good when I am expressing an opinion. I feel more engaged in the game and it brings the best out of me.'

George was the starting hooker for Warren Gatland¿s Lions against the All Blacks
George was the starting hooker for Warren Gatland¿s Lions against the All Blacks

George was the starting hooker for Warren Gatland's Lions against the All Blacks

Meanwhile, Jones is facing potential problems on the wing ahead of the autumn Tests, as Exeter expect Jack Nowell to need facial surgery that will keep him out for up to two months. He was injured in his club's win over Newcastle last Saturday and Rob Baxter, the Chiefs' head coach, said: 'Jack has got a couple of fractures around the top of his cheek and his eye socket. At this stage, it is looking likely he will require an operation.

'We are still waiting to see the consultant. Six weeks from the time of injury is a figure we've had bandied around. There is the potential for it to be four weeks, or for it to be eight weeks.'

Jones intends to rest his Lions starters for part or all of the autumn campaign against Argentina, Australia and Samoa. Leading wings Anthony Watson and Elliot Daly are both in that category but the England coaches may have to have a re-think if Nowell is ruled out.

Jonny May is likely to be chosen on the left wing but of the other contenders, Marland Yarde's form has been mixed and Jones still has reservations about Semesa Rokoduguni.

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