Ellis Genge on why England didn't descend into 'bitching and moaning'
Ellis Genge insists England’s ability to withstand a customary Wales fightback at Twickenham is a result of the closer ties forged off the pitch.
A theme of Eddie Jones’ tenure has been the vulnerability when a comfortable lead begins to dissolve under pressure from defiant opposition, a weakness that was most brutally exposed during a 38-38 draw with Scotland in 2019.
The tendency to collapse abruptly was also evident in Cardiff last year but when a 17-0 lead was threatened by Wales in the second half on Saturday, England rallied to win 23-19 in the Guinness Six Nations round three clash.
The home pack, with Genge acting as their spearhead, provided the necessary resilience as the result hung in the balance at 17-12 and the Leicester prop credits the removal of past cliques for the tenacity shown.
In his recent book ‘Leadership’, Jones spoke of the harmful ripples caused by Saracens’ influence on the squad culminating in a fifth-place finish in the 2021 Six Nations.
“In previous years we would probably have started bitching a little bit at each other, shouting. We would have become a little bit disjointed,” said Genge in reference to the response after Nick Tompkins ran in the second of Wales’ three tries.
“But there wasn’t one minute out there, even when we conceded two on the bounce in reasonably quick succession, when any of us were bitching or moaning at each other. It was ‘what’s the next job?’. That’s what you saw out there.
“It has come from changes off the pitch. We’ve got a huge focus on togetherness. It’s a bit of a cliche, but we’re all genuinely tight. We spend so much time with each other off the pitch.
“There are genuine relationships in this squad now as opposed to in the years gone by when it might have been a little bit cliquey perhaps.
“There’s not a divide between senior and young. We’re all really good friends and that probably shows out on the pitch.”
England were beaten 3-1 on the try count and while Genge admits “it maybe wasn’t our best performance”, they remain the title hunt with fixtures against Ireland at Twickenham and France in Paris completing their campaign.
History was made as Ben Youngs stepped off the bench to win his 115th cap and become England’s most capped male player, beating the record held since 2000 by Jason Leonard.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 26, 2022
Genge was delighted for his Leicester team-mate, who has the nickname ‘Lenny’, and also paid tribute to his friend and front-row colleague Kyle Sinckler, who won his 50th cap.
“I’m over the moon that two of my close friends achieved such great things,” the England vice-captain said.
“We had a little meeting on Friday night when we said some nice words about Lenny. I bought him a mug, a tea mug. He likes a cup of tea, our Len,” Genge said.
“I bought him a mug with a picture of us when he made his 100th. He scored a try and I jumped on top of him to celebrate. I put a picture of that onto a mug.
“And I bought him a card with loads of pictures on. A collage I think they call it in France.
“Kyle’s a world-class operator. He’ll be the first to say he’s not always the coolest of heads. But when he’s on it, he’s a great operator.
“People don’t see the hours and hours he puts in off the pitch to get his body right for the boys on the weekend.
“He’s selfish with his body to make himself selfless on the weekend. He’s a serious Test player. A kid from Mitcham who no one ever thought would get one cap, let alone 50.”
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