Jamie George: This is Twickenham – we’ll defend it like every Englishman would

Jamie George - Jamie George: This is Twickenham – we'll defend it like every Englishman would

England captain Jamie George has issued a rally-cry to his team-mates and said they can wreck Ireland’s hopes of back-to-back Grand Slams by defending their Twickenham home.

Steve Borthwick’s side are 12-point underdogs for Saturday’s fixture on the back of their 30-21 loss to Scotland, and have lost their past four meetings with Andy Farrell’s charges.

But George cited “big performances” against Argentina and South Africa at last year’s World Cup as evidence that England will relish this weekend. The hooker admitted that “we don’t want to go in with an underdog title ever when we’re playing at Twickenham,” but was insistent the hosts could produce a defiant performance.

“We believe that we’re going to go there and win,” George said. “We don’t want anyone, any opposition, to come to Twickenham and have an easy ride.

“We have respect for them. I can’t emphasise enough how much respect we have for Andy Farrell and Peter O’Mahony’s team. They’ve got brilliant players across the board.

“But this is England. This is Twickenham. This is home. And we’re going to defend our home, like every Englishman would.”

Jamie George sings the national anthem
George is backing his team-mates to put in performance to make the Twickenham crowd proud - Getty Images/Dan Mullan

Ahead of what will be Borthwick’s 20th Test as head coach, England have only once beaten an international team ranked above them; against Argentina in the opening game of the World Cup. George stressed, however, they would not be weighed down by that fact.

“We don’t think about things like that,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a positive way of thinking about things. We want to win this game and we know that we can win this game.

“I think it’d be a huge thing for English rugby if we did because we’ve got a lot of belief from within this squad, from within this group that we’re capable of doing very, very special things. We’ve spoken about bringing people with us. A result like this at the weekend would be a huge way of going about that.”

Ireland have rebounded impressively from their quarter-final exit at the World Cup, plundering 15 tries and conceding just three over the first three rounds of this Six Nations. Such has been their dominance that a bonus-point win at Twickenham would wrap up the Championship title with one game to spare.

A second consecutive Grand Slam is within sight for Ireland, yet captain O’Mahony is mindful of this latest obstacle.

“We know if we play well tomorrow, we’ll be in with a shout,” said the back-rower, who started in victories at Twickenham in 2018 and 2022. “But if we don’t fire, this England team has incredible quality. They can beat anyone on their day. It’s not long ago that they were competing in the last two games of the World Cup. We know we’re in for a huge test at Twickenham, as always.

“It’s tough to win away from home regardless of where you are, and nowhere more so than Twickenham. It’s obviously a fortress of rugby for England. We’ve picked up some wins here. But again, we’ve had to play unbelievably well and that’s what tomorrow is going to take; a special performance from this group.”

Ireland captain Peter O'Mahony
Ireland captain Peter O'Mahony is taking nothing for granted as he looks to lead Ireland to another Six Nations title - PA/Brian Lawless

George suggested Ireland deserve the acclaim they have received, with many believing them to be on course for another clean sweep.

“I don’t really blame people for thinking that way because they are a great team,” he said. “I think it’s off the back of some fantastic performances over the last two or three years. With a brilliant coach like Andy Farrell, they’re always going to be a great team.

“But they’ve got to come to an end and they have got to get result here. And we’re a team that’s hurting off the back of the Scotland result, hugely motivated, hugely excited about the potential of where we can go and it’s about time we put that out in the field.”

George came off the bench in Dublin in 2017 when Ireland ousted England 13-9 to stop their visitors from recording a second Grand Slam on the bounce. Eight years on, and now as skipper, he denied that England would be on a “spoiling” mission.

“I am not too worried about spoiling their party too much,” George said. “I want to make sure we get our things right. If we get our things right then we are going to come out on the positive end of the result. That is genuinely what I believe and I have seen some positive signs this week that we are going to be going in the right direction.

“It’s going to be a tough test, it’s going to take everything that we’ve got, we’re going to need absolutely everyone to be at the top of their game. When we get that, I think we can be a very good team.”

O’Mahony and George are close from their time together on the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour, even if correspondence has been on hold this week.

“I’m certainly very good friends with him but no, it’s a business week,” O’Mahony said. “He’s in the same boat.”

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