Jamie George eager for England to ‘silence’ French fans and spoil Grand Slam party

England cannot win the Six Nations but could prevent France from completing a clean sweep

Duncan Bech
Wednesday 16 March 2022 22:00
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Jamie George insists England intend to mute France’s Grand Slam celebrations by making the type of start that will turn the Paris crowd against their team.

France are aiming to claim a first title for 12 years, in the process issuing a statement of intent ahead of next year’s World Cup, with only Ireland capable of stopping them.

They enter ‘Super Saturday’ as strong favourites to inflict a third defeat of the Championship on England, but their supporters can be fickle if events on the pitch take an unscripted turn and it is this vulnerability that George believes can be exploited.

“There’s a huge amount of pressure on it for those guys. In terms of our psyche, we want to give them something that they’re not going to expect, we want to go there and spoil the party a little bit,” the Saracens hooker said.

“Generally French crowds are quite different. You go to Ireland and the crowds get in behind them when they kick the ball in the air, tackle and counter-ruck.

“The French noise comes from loose play, knock-ons, turnover ball and offloading. The atmosphere’s amazing, electric.

“We want to try and silence that crowd pretty early on and we’re aware of how to do that.

“Physically, it’s about not giving them the things they want, and that might put more pressure onto the French team if the crowd isn’t getting behind them.

“It might start becoming a little bit more difficult for them and they might start second-guessing themselves a little bit. That will all be part of the plan.”

Among England’s priorities this week is recovering from the monumental effort put into Saturday’s record home defeat by Ireland, which was played with 14 men for all but 82 seconds after Charlie Ewels was sent off for a dangerous tackle.

Having fought themselves to a standstill and then conceding two late tries that distorted the final scoreline of 32-15, their preparations for Saturday are about restoring depleted energy levels as much as plotting France’s downfall.

“Our recovery is still ongoing, emotionally and physically. Eddie (Jones) has given us a little less time on the field because he knows the physical and emotional strain we’ve had,” George said.

“We’re pretty bruised and battered, emotionally and physically. The game was as physical as a Test match against Ireland would ever be and one man down, you might have to get through a bit more work.

“But in terms of head space it was also a tough one. I was super proud of the group, really happy with a lot of the elements of the game and the character we showed, but bitterly disappointed that we couldn’t get over the line.

“Fundamentally, we want to put in an 80-minute performance against France that we are proud of because in parts we’ve been brilliant in this Six Nations, but there have also been parts that weren’t good enough.”

Jones names his team on Thursday evening, with openside flanker and right wing the biggest areas of doubt.

Max Malins has been dropped as a result of England’s misfiring attack, creating a vacancy on the right wing, while Tom Curry’s hamstring injury means an alternative at openside is required.

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