Jamie George believes England need to show “more courage” from the outset against South Africa on Saturday if they are to enjoy a positive finish to their Twickenham autumn.
Eddie Jones’s side have registered one win from three November games so far and George acknowledges they cannot afford to replicate the slow start which cost them against New Zealand.
With Jones poised to unveil a beefed-up pack to counter the world champions’ familiar physicality, there is a clear sense within the England camp that this is not the time for their pack to tiptoe into battle. “It’s been the talk all week,” confirmed George.
“It’s the perfect test for us as a front five off the back of a poor performance. The way we scrummed and mauled against New Zealand is not the England standard and we’re fully aware of that. We’re hurting from our performance at the weekend and we want to make sure we get things right.”
George was among the posse of replacements who gave their side fresh impetus against the All Blacks as the home side scored three late tries to snatch a 25-25 draw. This time the Saracens hooker does not want England to take 70 minutes to discover their true selves.
“We played into their hands a little bit last weekend. Throughout the week we talked about going at New Zealand and it felt like we were sitting back. Then they were so far ahead on the scoreboard that, coming off the bench, we thought: ‘We have to have a crack here.’
“That almost freed us up to go and play. We maybe needed to show a bit more courage from the start. It wasn’t through a lack of our effort; our ill-discipline took away from our intensity. We fed them rather than going at them. We can’t be like that again.
“We know how big the test is this week and we need to make sure we’re fully aware of what ‘going at’ a team looks like. We saw against New Zealand that we can play a certain way when we want to – and that has given us confidence. That is something we’ll be taking into this weekend.”
England have also been reviewing their decision to kick the ball out to end last Saturday’s game with the scores tied, rather than looking for a win. George has confirmed the decision was made before the All Blacks’ final restart and still believes that settling for a draw was the right decision in the circumstances.
“I know there is a lot of criticism around it and I can understand it but where we had come back from was incredible. We did score one length-of-the-field try but it doesn’t happen that often against the All Blacks. Once you do it once they will smart up.
“We would have been confident we could break it down but the risk was probably too high at that point so I think it was the right call. We were clear we wanted to kick the ball off. Everyone backed it at the time.”