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George's England exile ends just 24 hours after he was left out

By Liam Heagney

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The international exile of Jamie George is over as Eddie Jones has called him into the England squad just a day after the hooker was one of the most high profile omissions from the squad of 34 announced on Monday for the three-match November series. George’s omission was viewed in some quarters as a potential Test career-ending decision but the Saracens player has dramatically earned a reprieve just 24 hours later.    

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George was initially left out despite doubts surrounding the availability of Luke Cowan-Dickie, the Exeter hooker who was injured in last weekend’s Gallagher Premiership win over Wasps. It has since emerged that Cowan-Dickie is no longer an option for the entire Test series following a scan, clearing a path back into the England squad for George.

It was also reported that winger Anthony Watson will miss the autumn series as well – and potentially the Six Nations as well – as the knee damage sustained late in Bath’s home rout by Saracens was confirmed as a ruptured ACL. The only ray of light for England on an otherwise bleak Tuesday afternoon was that Maro Itoje’s shoulder injury, which also happened at The Rec last Sunday, isn’t serious and he should be available to face Tonga at Twickenham on November 6.

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What Eddie Jones had to say about his England squad on Monday
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What Eddie Jones had to say about his England squad on Monday

An RFU media release on Tuesday afternoon regarding the George call-up read: “Luke Cowan-Dickie has withdrawn from the England squad for the Autumn Nations Series with an ankle injury sustained in Exeter Chiefs’ game against Wasps at the weekend. “Eddie Jones has called up Saracens hooker Jamie George to the squad, which will meet on Monday to travel to Jersey for a five-day training camp as they prepare for the fixtures. England will play Tonga, Australia and South Africa with all matches at Twickenham.”

It was in the wake of Monday’s latest England squad announcement that Jim Hamilton, the former Saracens second row, suggested that the international careers of George and the Vunipola brothers, Billy and Mako, were more than likely over after Jones opted not to select them despite their much-improved club form in recent weeks with their London club.

All three were major parts of the English pack that didn’t deliver in last spring’s Guinness Six Nations, the 2020 champions slipping to an embarrassing fifth-place finish. “I don’t think there is any way back. I can’t see with the way that they are playing now there is a way they can get back in unless there is an injury, unless Eddie flips its again,” said Hamilton on the show he co-hosts with Andy Goode.

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“He’s so hard to read, isn’t he? Jamie George has been one of the leading hookers in the world for the last three or four years, unquestionably, and then he has had a quiet season, has gone on the Lions tour, hardly played, and then he has been dropped out of the squad having not playing any rugby, so what are you judging him on? In that sense, it is a big call.”

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George's England exile ends just 24 hours after he was left out

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