Steve Borthwick urges Jamie George to be his own man as England captain

By Sports Desk January 17, 2024

Jamie George has been told to put his own stamp on the captaincy after being entrusted to lead a revamped England squad into the Guinness Six Nations.

George takes charge of team for the first time after filling the vacancy created by Owen Farrell’s decision to miss the Championship in order to prioritise his and his family’s mental wellbeing.

The promotion capped a special day for the 33-year-old having also signed a new two-year deal with Saracens that is to be accompanied by a central contract with the Rugby Football Union.

As undisputed first choice hooker, as well as an influential player in the English game, George was chosen ahead of nearest rivals Ellis Genge and Maro Itoje.

An element of the appointment process was instigated by Belgium manager and former Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany and now that he has risen to the top, Steve Borthwick insists George must lead in his own image.

“I was asked by somebody ‘have you given Jamie, any advice?’” said head coach Borthwick, who captained England 21 times as a second-row.

“The one thing I said is: ‘I want you to lead as you.’ And that one year, many 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.

“Prior to the World Cup we did this study. We will do something similar again in the near future. It was a network analysis, for want of a better term. It was actually an idea given to me by Vincent Kompany.

“You basically give the players a series of questions. And then put the top three players you turn to in this situation.

“What it effectively produces is this network of how everybody connects and who connects with who the most.

“You could tell in different elements – in tactical elements, high pressure circumstances, off the field – you connect with different people.

“So I had this incredible amount of information and it said ‘I know where people turn to’. You’d be able to see and tell me who they turn to, who Ellis and Maro would turn to. And the number of people who connected with Jamie George is immense.

“He has this ability, across the whole squad, to make people understand him. That stood out to me as being exceptional.

“He’s a great people person. He’s got a positive nature. There’s always a smile very close in the way he is. And I want him to bring all of that into this role as the captain.”

Even allowing for retirement and injury, Borthwick has completed a significant overhaul in naming a 36-man squad for the Six Nations to begin the next World Cup cycle.

Kyle Sinckler and Billy Vunipola have been dropped, Henry Slade and Alex Dombrandt are back in favour and there are first time appearances in an England squad for some exciting rookies such as Immanuel Feyi-Waboso and Ethan Roots.

Only 17 of the 34 who helped England finish third in last autumn’s World Cup are present.

“I look at this as the next step that we need to take. It’s the next competition and in terms of the development of the team, it’s important that we build on our game,” Borthwick said.

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