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Steve Borthwick reveals key quality that made Jamie George his ideal England captain

Hooker George replaces the absent Owen Farrell as the leader of Borthwick’s Six Nations squad

Harry Latham-Coyle
Thursday 18 January 2024 07:06 GMT
Jamie George will captain England in the Six Nations
Jamie George will captain England in the Six Nations (Getty Images)

Steve Borthwick has explained that it is Jamie George’s ability to connect with people that made him the ideal candidate to succeed Owen Farrell as England captain.

Hooker George will lead Borthwick’s side during the Six Nations in the absence of close friend and Saracens teammate Farrell, who has taken a break from international rugby.

The 33-year-old has been an established member of England’s leadership group for several years, and is well-liked by the rest of the squad.

Ellis Genge, Maro Itoje and Ben Earl are among the other members of Borthwick’s selection set to take on leadership duties for the championship, with Courtney Lawes having retired and Tom Curry injured.

“I think he’s an outstanding player, one of the best hookers in the world, [with an] incredible work-rate.” Borthwick explained of the qualities that made George his choice as captain. “He’s a great example in that sense.

“Secondly, he’s got a fantastic understanding of the game, tactically very astute. And thirdly, he’s brilliant with people and builds great relationships.”

Jamie George (right) is highly regarded within the England dressing room (Getty Images)

Expanding on that final quality, Borthwick revealed that an in-house study had been key to George’s candidacy. At the suggestion of Burnley manager Vincent Kompany, the England head coach and his staff conducted a survey of his World Cup squad to assess who each player would turn to in different situations.

“It effectively produces is this network of how everybody connects, and who connects with who the most,” Borthwick explained. “The number of people who connected with Jamie George is immense. His ability, across the whole squad, [for people] to understand him stood out to me as being exceptional.

“I think he’s a great people person. He’s got a positive nature. I want him to bring all of that into this role as the captain.

“I was asked this morning by somebody, ‘have you given Jamie, any advice?’ And the one thing I said is: ‘I want you to lead as you.’ So that many years from now, you will reflect and want to say you led as you.

“I’d say during my time as England captain, I don’t think I led as me. I want him to bring all his personality to it.”

Steve Borthwick (right) has urged Jamie George to be himself (Getty Images)

After a difficult build-up, England built steadily during the World Cup before falling narrowly short in their semi-final against South Africa.

They counted on good travelling support throughout, though questions remained over Borthwick’s preferred conservative style of play.

Turning around a poor recent record in the Six Nations will be key to further build a connection with a public that had perhaps grown disillusioned with their England team, but Borthwick is confident England have the leaders to get the country behind them.

“I think across this team there are a number of people the English public can connect with in different ways,” the former lock said. “There is a team from different backgrounds.

“Jamie is one of them and I have talked about the positive nature of him as a person. I have talked about Joe Marler, who has been so open and I think people connect with him. Maro [Itoje] is a figurehead, a superstar of the game.

“In the latter part of that World Cup I saw English supporters’ connection with the team change a bit. The public saw how much these guys care. We need to keep developing as a team. We will do that. We will work hard. We ask the public to get behind the team, get behind Jamie, get behind this group of young men who are determined to take this team forward.”

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