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George: The 'good plan' areas where England are targeting France

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Jamie George has identified the main areas where he feels England can get at France and ambush their Guinness Six Nations Grand Slam party. The French are poised to clinch a first clean sweep in the championship since 2010, needing only a round five win over Eddie Jones’ struggling side to cap a sweet 2022 that has so far featured wins over Italy, Ireland, Scotland and France.

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Beaten 32-15 last Saturday by Ireland at Twickenham, England arrived in Paris on Tuesday ahead of a Six Nations finale where the title is beyond them. Few are backing George and co to cause an upset but the hooker insisted his team is capable of producing the result that would deny the French and send the title instead to the Irish.

“They are right up there,” said George about the threat posed by this current France team under Fabien Galthie. “You look at the teams that get to No1 in the world, the way that you do it is you have a strong set-piece but you have a clear identity as a team and they do have that. 

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“When you come up against France you know exactly what their game plan will be against you. They don’t really veer away from that too much. They have been brilliant. They have been brilliant for the last 18 months, two years now and they clearly are a very tight-knit squad. 

“You can see that in the way they play and the little clips you see outside of the game. We’re fully aware it is going to be a big challenge for us this weekend but one I am certain we are ready for.” 

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What areas, in particular, are England targeting? “They have a good lineout set-up run by Cameron Woki. He is an up and coming caller but we have got a good plan in place. We have got great athletes on this team. Lineout is something that has been going well for us over the campaign and when you have got the likes of Maro (Itoje) in the mix he is always going to come up with a good plan to go after it.

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“That has got to be something we try and disrupt. We don’t want to give them the set-piece ball that they want because they can be dangerous off the back of that.

“They are a team that kicks the ball a huge amount and making good decisions off the back of that is going to be an important thing,” continued George, one of the shining England lights last weekend after retaking the No2 jersey from the injured Luke Cowan-Dickie. 

“Whenever you play France there is going to be an element of whoever wins the gain line wins the game. They like to pick and go in and around the ruck quite a lot. We have to make sure we are nice and physical there, and probably silencing their nine and ten is going to be key to us winning the game.”

George also mentioned the mental and physical battle England are facing to get themselves right after playing 78 minutes a red-carded man down versus the Irish. “Pretty bruised and battered on both fronts,” he admitted about the aftermath of last weekend. “That game was as physical as any Test match against Ireland is but one man down you have to go through a bit more work, the GPS stats were pretty impressive. 

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“In terms of headspace it was a tough one… bitterly disappointed we couldn’t get over the line and couldn’t be going to Paris for the championship this weekend… Eddie has given us less time on the field (this week) because he knows the physical and emotional strain that we have had. 

“We also had a chat as a playing group, some of the senior members spoke about how important the lessons we have learned in terms of the emotion. You all saw we were right up there in terms of how much it meant (last Saturday) and the strain it would have taken out of us.

“We need to make sure we get ourselves right mentally over the next few days so that we can then hit the ground running.”

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