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'People think I'm a little more hot-headed... I've never had a red card for ill-discipline nor a yellow'

By Liam Heagney

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Potential England summer series skipper Ellis Genge has defended his fiery reputation, suggesting he has the tools to captain his country while regular leader Owen Farrell is away with the Lions in South Africa. The loosehead has enjoyed a rich run of form recently, his efforts noticeably much improved after he was overlooked by Warren Gatland. Genge didn’t even receive a ‘Save the date’ letter which nearly 60 players were sent in April in advance of the May 6 announcement of the 37-strong squad. 

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However, Genge’s reaction on the pitch with Leicester since then has been powerful and he spent the past week training with England as the most capped player of the 34 that England gathered ahead of a series that kicks off on June 27 with an A-level match versus Scotland A at Welford Road before two Test games follow at Twickenham versus the USA and Canada.

Having captained teams while coming up through the ranks, Genge has also been entrusted with that role at Leicester on occasion and he was Tigers skipper as recently as last weekend’s Premiership-ending win over local rivals Wasps. 

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That responsibility was a show of confidence in him by Steve Borthwick in the wake of the post-game scuffle which saw him get involved with Nathan Hughes after the previous week’s loss to Bristol resulted in multiple players from both sides dabbling in a heated exchange. A fortnight on from that tempestuous tussle, Genge defended his reputation and claimed it is erroneously tarnished.  

“I do think people think I’m a little more hot-headed than what I am,” said the front-rower. “I feel like I react to situations depending on how they are unravelling in front of me. For example, I have never had a red card for ill-discipline nor have a yellow for anything of that nature besides repeat offences. I do think for example if I was a captain of a side and teams thought right let’s get in his head, it falls on deaf ears but if people would like to waste their time doing that and trying to put me off my game carry on.

“It does bother me a little bit, probably not as much as it used to,” continued Genge, the 26-year-old with 28 England caps. “It’s probably a misconception of what people see me as. It’s relatively easy to accumulate that data and all the stories and articles written about me in the past and sort of paint that picture, especially people that don’t follow my career as closely as they follow their own teams. 

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“Regardless of whether you want to or not you go on social media it’s always he’s too hot-headed anyway, he’s too much of a liability. It makes me laugh a little bit because I have never had reds or yellows for those sort of things. No, it doesn’t bother me too much anymore, it just falls on deaf ears a little bit.”

Asked about his captaincy skills, Genge said: “I have always been captain of my age stuff, not the England stuff but always for Hartpury, for my club side in Bristol and then I was captain for a little bit with Bristol schools. Although I was a lot younger it is a role I am relatively familiar with.

“I’d say I haven’t changed too much. I try to lead with actions as opposed to words and it’s just the way I do it. So for example on the weekend I spoke to Ben Youngs, who was on the bench, but I spoke to him about leading and taking care of the boys who weren’t starting and he spoke a lot in the meetings and the pre-match and then I like to rally the boys together before we go out and give them my ten cents.

“I feel like I have had good momentum,” he added regarding his late-season form. “I’m enjoying myself. Regarding the Lions, I feel like I was probably letting myself down with performances prior to that so I took more of an onus on sorting myself out so I could better the team. I’d like to think I have done that.”

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'People think I'm a little more hot-headed... I've never had a red card for ill-discipline nor a yellow'

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