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Why 'little bit of anger' from Jamie George delighted Eddie Jones

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

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Eddie Jones has taken great delight from the angry reaction in recent weeks of Jamie George, the originally axed 31-year-old hooker who has fought his way back into England contention and is now one of the two hookers in the squad of 28 ahead of team selection for Saturday’s Autumn Nations Series opener versus Tonga.  

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A Lions tourist for their July trip to South Africa, George was omitted from the England squads announced on September 21 and October 18 despite improved club form with Saracens following their return to the Premiership following a season in the Championship. 

In the end, an injury to Luke Cowan-Dickie restored George to the England mix and he is now in a position to add to his haul of 59 England caps as the only two hookers remaining in the squad are the Saracens front-rower and Newcastle’s Jamie Blamire, the 23-year-old Test rookie who earned his first two caps in the summer series versus the USA and Canada. The uncapped Nic Dolly was released back to Leicester on Tuesday evening. 

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The overall response of George after his axing has pleased England boss Jones who had wanted a reaction. “He has responded well,” enthused Jones. “A player who has been dropped, particularly an established player, you have got two choices: one you can sulk and blame everything around you or you can get on with it and prove that the person who didn’t select you in the first place is wrong and then put in even stronger performances.

“I have been really delighted by Jamie’s attitude. He has come in and has worked hard, been helping the two young hookers Jamie (Blamire) and Nic Dolly and really added to the squad and for a player like him, what he has gone through is fairly normal. 

“If you look at when he first came into Saracens he was second choice behind (Schalk) Brits. He had to fight hard, got second choice, career went up, came into England, Dylan (Hartley) was ahead of him, had to fight hard to get the opportunity and then his career went up again and he has probably plateaued a little bit as was seen by the Lions tour.

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“Now he has got the opportunity to go up again and he wants to go up. He doesn’t want to plateau, he doesn’t want to finish his career on not being involved in the Lions tour and he wants to be selected and be a member of this new England side going forward.”

Asked about the rapport he has with the player following the initial decision to exclude him, Jones added: “Firstly I gave him the reason why he wasn’t included and when you tell that to players they never really hear you the first time, so there were some follow-up conversations. 

“He responded well for his club. I really enjoyed the way he played with a little bit of anger for his club and you can see it means a lot to him. That is the sort of response we want because as a team, the longer you are together and you have had some success the harder you have to work. Sometimes you just forget how hard you have to work to be good and he wants to be good and I am sure he is going to get there.”

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