Six Nations 2024: England captain Jamie George wants to “toughen up” against Italy

Six Nations 2024: England captain Jamie George wants to “toughen up” against Italy

Jamie George
Jamie George will lead England for the first time as captain in his 86th cap when they face Italy in the Six Nations.
Location: Olympic Stadium, Rome Date: Saturday, 3 February Start: 14:15 GMT
Access: Listen to BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra; access to match details on the BBC Sport website and programme; watch live on ITV1.

“We want to play harder than we’ve played before.”

This is a new England and Jamie George is clearly in his sights on the eve of the Six Nations as his first captain.

England took the bronze medal in last year’s World Cup, but have often been criticized for their style and chasing style.

George will lead his charges for the first time against Italy on Saturday, with the chance to end England’s streak of first defeats in the last four Nations.

The visitors will be favorites to extend their good record against the Azzurri, but George wants the game to match the “white wall” of England fans expected in the Italian capital.

“There are things we want to do in attack, defense and kicking, but we want to play with intensity that we haven’t played before,” George told BBC Sport.

“We want to put teams in trouble on all sides of the football. There was a lot of talk about the games we had in the World Cup as well [attack coach] Richard Wigglesworth has been unfaithful about putting things in place for us to attack.

“The way we’ve taken it and tried to express what we want, I know we can put it on the pitch on Saturday.

“We really want to connect with the fans and we will have a white wall in Rome that we can promote and enjoy from their seats.

“This comes with a certain type of performance. I’m not saying we will throw the ball from here, there and everywhere but you will see a lot of fights and character, and a team that is trying to push the opposition.”

George – who was named captain after Owen Farrell made himself unavailable for selection – and his senior team-mates have been supported in their quest to promote young talent.

Experienced players and vice-captain George Ford, prop Joe Marler, lock Maro Itoje and wing Elliot Daly all remain, but five players could start the Tests.

Flanker Ethan Roots and center Fraser Dingwall will win their first caps since the start, while fly-half Fin Smith, wing Immanuel Feyi-Waboso and flanker Chandler Cunningham-South could come off the bench.

Fraser Dingwall, Tommy Freeman and Alex Mitchell
Fraser Dingwall (left) will play with some familiar faces in England’s back line in Northampton winger Tommy Freeman (centre) and scrum-half Alex Mitchell (right), while fly-half Fin Smith could also be on the bench.

George added: “We have five new weapons that have been very successful this week. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team with such a mindset at the start of a campaign that they want to learn quickly. , build on the plan and put it on the field.”

Head coach Steve Borthwick is also keen for his team to “make a difference” as they look to challenge rivals Ireland and France.

“It’s a group of players with a mix of experience and new to Test rugby,” Borthwick told BBC Sport.

“I never thought to name five more players in the 23-man squad and we really want to attack the game. We want to change and increase our different game, I want the players to play hard and hard. win on the pitch.”

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The Azzurri are buying ‘new tactics’

Italy started their World Cup campaign with two wins in their opening two matches but then had wins over New Zealand and France.

The Azzurri conceded 96 points in the loss to the All Blacks before posting another 60 against the hosts.

Before Ange Capuozzo’s late withdrawal from the opening game against England, 11 players kept their places for the match against France.

The biggest change is on the pitch where former Argentina international Gonzalo Quesada has replaced Kieran Crowley as head coach.

Italy took the Wooden Spoon last year and have never beaten England, but Quesada says his players have adapted to the introduction of his “new tactics”.

We know that England will put us in big trouble, not everything we can do will be good because of the short time we have been together, but the preparation for the match has been good,” said Quesada.

“What is certain is that we will see an Italian team with more passion, passion and desire to succeed.”

Lock Federico Ruzza is close to winning his 50th cap, while the Garbisi brothers – fly-half Paolo and scrum-half Alessandro – will start together in Test matches.

The loss of sensational winger Capuozzo to illness, however, will prove difficult for the hosts as they look to start Quesada’s reign with a first win in England.

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