George Furbank has reflected on his testing international rugby baptism with England last February, the 23-year-old full-back getting thrust in for a debut in the Parisian defeat to France and then playing in a hurricane six days later in the ugly win over Scotland.
With Anthony Watson unavailable for the start of the Six Nations, Eddie Jones opted to rejig his English back three following the previous November’s World Cup final defeat to South Africa.
The starting full-back in Yokohama, Elliot Daly, was switched to join Jonny May on the wings in place of the absent Watson, creating the England opening for the rookie Furbank, who only broke into the Northampton side in 2018/19, to step up to the Test arena.
England were beaten by the French before quickly rebounding to edge the Scots. Injury then ruled Furbank out of the round three hammering of Ireland before rugby in Europe ground to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic in the weeks after the early March win over Wales.
Five months on from his England breakthrough, Furbank has now reflected on his sudden emergence, telling Jim Hamilton on The Lockdown, the RugbyPass pandemic interview series, that he holds mixed emotions about how his opening caps went.
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“It feels weird to me when people say that (you’re an England player) so getting used to that is still quite surreal,” he said in the latest instalment of the popular video interview series. “It all happened very quickly.
“I have only got 30-something caps at Saints, so I’m still one of the young, inexperienced guys there. Going into the whole England set-up was unexpected to start off with, and then being picked in the France game was another unexpected event.
“I have loved this season as a whole, especially with Six Nations the cherry on the top. I look back with mixed emotions. There are some emotions I had after the first couple of games as well, I don’t think I had as good a game as I could have had (against France), but it’s something I always wanted to do so being able to do that was pretty special.
“I try not to read stuff,” he added about the greater social media attention that came with becoming an England player. “That was one thing I had to learn to deal with, now you’re on a properly big stage compared to Northampton.
“At Northampton, it’s sort of the local areas that will talk about games and things like that, and you go to England and it’s the whole country involved and a massive media profile.
“I had a general idea of what people were saying from mates telling you, all that kind of stuff. I had a general idea but you just have to deal with it really.
“I was quite lucky that the Scotland game was a reasonably quick turnaround so I could get my focus rather than dwelling on what happened in France, but I sort of look back with massive pride in the France game because it was my debut, it was something I wasn’t expecting to happen.
“Yeah, I made a few errors but it was still an unbelievable experience and to say I am a capped player means a lot, it’s special,” he said before going on to recall Storm Ciara which massively impacted on the action against Scotland in Edinburgh.
The lifts to training. The early starts to watch him play. The dirty kit and the muddy boots. The ups and the downs. @GeorgeFurbank's parents have supported him from his early days at @huntingdonrugby to now ?
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) February 4, 2020
“It was probably the worst conditions I have ever played in. It was a guessing game at times. As soon as the ball went up in the air it was a guessing game where it was going to go.
“Driving there in the morning I knew it was going to be wet. It’s not as enjoyable playing in the wet as it is in the dry but you deal with that, but when it’s windy as well and it wasn’t straight down the pitch, it was swirling, I thought, ‘Oh, here we go’.
“Luckily I wasn’t tested too much in the end which was quite nice but yeah, it was horrific conditions. Me and Jonny May at the end were getting the shivers because we weren’t really involved.
“It was forwards just picking and going from about 20 minutes from the end. But winning that game made it all worthwhile. If we came off with a loss it would have been a less enjoyable experience.”
Now, about those mischievous rumours… https://t.co/0Cb9MPuCaX
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) July 16, 2020
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