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Spirited defeat to Ireland is the foundation for England's World Cup says Jamie George

By PA
(Photo by Dan Mullan - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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Jamie George insists England have laid the foundation for their 2023 World Cup bid after falling to a spirited 32-15 Guinness Six Nations defeat by Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday.

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England were removed from title contention after being toppled by Andy Farrell’s men in a classic Test that was only decided in the closing stages, despite playing with 14 men for all but the opening 82 seconds after Charlie Ewels was sent off for a dangerous tackle.

What followed was a stirring act of defiance as an 8-0 deficit was pegged back to 15-15 with 15 minutes to go before Jack Conan and Finlay Bealham struck late on to propel Ireland out of sight.

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And, while England face a mountain to climb against France in Paris on Saturday, George reckons they must empty the tanks in pursuit of denying their rivals the Grand Slam.

“In 18 months’ time when we prepare for a World Cup we’ll look back and say that was our statement game we can hold ourselves to,” said George, who alongside Maro Itoje and Ellis Genge were totems of English resistance.

“That game is the benchmark for what we want to try to be at. Give us an extra player and we might have pushed it a little bit closer.

“Sometimes a performance like that can make you realise what you’re actually capable of. That’s why it’s odd.

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“We lost and I’m genuinely gutted we can’t win the tournament, but at the same time there is so much to come from that game, to take from that game.

“We have to win against France on Saturday, I really do think that. I’m desperate to win. Not for any reason other than we deserve to off the back of the performance we put in here.

“Maybe ‘need’ to win is the wrong word but we owe it to ourselves and go to Paris and put in a performance which really ruffles some feathers. Hopefully we will then get a win off the back of that.”

France are odds-on favourites to complete the Grand Slam despite only narrowly edging Wales and head coach Eddie Jones is convinced England can storm Paris.

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“We’ve beaten France in our last two games so we’ve got a pretty good idea of how to play against them, but certainly Wales did really well on Friday night,” Jones said.

“Wales lost the kicking in the first 20 and to beat France you have to out-kick them. That’s the first thing.

“Then you have to out-fight them around the ruck, which Wales did. Wales are a really hard tough team and we have to replicate them at the ruck and keep Antoine Dupont quiet.

“I think we’ve taken massive steps forward in this Six Nations. We dominated the game against Scotland but got beaten.

“We’ve dominated this game with 14 men, at times, and got beaten. And then we’ve had two good wins against Wales and Italy and we’ll have a good win against France.

“So I can’t see how we haven’t progressed the way we want to progress. Obviously our aim was to win the Championship.

“We’re disappointed we haven’t won the Championship but sometimes circumstances mean that maybe the results don’t mimic the performance. But that certainly catches up – the results will catch up.”

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