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George: England up for fight


'You see any white shirt being messed around with and you'll often see 15 white shirts there pretty quickly'

Jamie George has warned Italy that any attempt to rough-up England will be met with the same unified retaliation evident against Georgia last week.

Fighting broke out during a live scrummaging session at the three-day training camp in Oxford, forcing coaches from both nations to intervene to separate the warring front rows.

George views the brawls against the Eastern Europeans as the perfect medicine following a 21-13 defeat by Wales that means England can afford no further setbacks if they are to win the Guinness Six Nations title.

“After a loss sometimes you feel very isolated and naturally you are constantly thinking about yourself – ‘what did I do, what could I have done better?'” the Lions and Saracens hooker said.

“And then the next thing you know you’re in a pretty heated session with the Georgians. As a pack we showed that we have each other’s backs and we are as tight as ever.

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“I know for a fact that the person to my left, right and behind me have got my back so it’s definitely brought us closer together. As a forward pack we will always look out for each other and we speak about that a lot.

“We don’t want to get into pushing and shoving and all that, but unfortunately it’s a part of the game. It’s that fine balance of standing up for yourself and not showing any form of weakness, but at the same time not letting it distract you from
what you’ve got to do next.

“You see any white shirt being messed around with and more often than not you’ll see 15 white shirts there pretty quickly. That’s the great thing about the team and it’s a sign we’re in a great place.”

Kyle Sinckler was targeted by Wales at the Principality Stadium after being identified by Warren Gatland as an “emotional timebomb”, but England have a strategy in place to deal with any baiting.

Kyle Sinckler warms up carrying a water weight ball during an England training session last week (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

“People are going to target our better players, always. We would try to do the same with any opposition,” George said. “How they do that might be by trying to get under their skin a bit, so we make sure we look after them, get them out of there and then we fly into the next thing.”

England are still in a strong position to win the Six Nations but need Grand Slam-chasing Wales to slip up in the final two rounds while dispatching Italy and Scotland on successive weekends at Twickenham.

“Winning the title is certainly the end goal. The big thing is we know we need to put pressure on Wales to get results from both those games,” George said.

“Then they’ll know for a fact we’re right back on it and we’re desperate to win the championship. That will apply pressure on them. That’s all we can do.”

George refuses to dwell on the evidence presented to Premiership Rugby Ltd that questions whether Saracens are in breach of salary cap rules. “I haven’t really thought about it at all. We came in at the weekend and people were giving us stick, but it’s all banter. There’s nothing said too much,” George said.

“Between the Saracens guys we haven’t really spoken about it either. It is very difficult in a Test week to speak about too much else.”

Eddie Jones’ team to face Italy shows fives changes from the XV beaten by Wales. Joe Cokanasiga starts on the right wing while Ben Te’o comes in at inside centre with Manu Tuilagi moving to outside centre.

Ellis Genge starts at loosehead prop with Ben Moon shifting to the bench. Joe Launchbury is named in the second row following the injury of Courtney Lawes in Cardiff. Brad Shields will start at blindside flanker with Mark Wilson named as a finisher.

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'You see any white shirt being messed around with and you'll often see 15 white shirts there pretty quickly'
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