England captain confident of snapping New Zealand rugby drought

FILE - England captain Jamie George in action during a Six nations match. Photo: Jean Catuffe/DPPI via AFP

FILE - England captain Jamie George in action during a Six nations match. Photo: Jean Catuffe/DPPI via AFP

Published Jul 4, 2024


Captain Jamie George said on Thursday England have all the momentum going into their series in New Zealand and are confident of snapping a 21-year drought in the first Test in Dunedin.

George said England have the requisite cohesion to upset the All Blacks in Dunedin on Saturday, something they haven’t achieved on New Zealand soil since 2003, after good progress in this year's Six Nations.

England, playing a more expansive style than earlier in the championship, upset eventual winners Ireland before going down by two points to France in Lyon in March to finish third.

George said he saw more improvement in last week's tour-opening 52-17 defeat of Japan in Tokyo and, while New Zealand present a bigger threat, believes their preparation couldn't have been better.

"Regardless of who we play against now, I see opportunity everywhere within this team," he said.

"We wanted to use the momentum of the Six Nations to try and create an identity.

"This week has got that feel. We're feeling fit, we're feeling ready to go and we want to take these guys on," George said.

The veteran Saracens hooker is one of just four in an otherwise young squad who have played in New Zealand before but said it was important his team-mates don't feel inhibited.

He said players such as 21-year-old winger Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, whose tackle-busting runs for the Exeter Chiefs were a feature of the Premiership season, could make an impact in the two-Test series.

"He's picked for a reason. He's got absolute super powers in his body that I would love to have and I will never have," George said.

"So go out there and do it. Don't be afraid of holding back. What we want to make sure we do is throw everything at this."

George said he learned a lot from the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand in 2017, when he started in all three Tests in the drawn series.

The importance of gaining the initiative against the All Blacks was also made clear in England's 19-7 semi-final triumph over the tournament favourites at the 2019 World Cup.

"That's one of the best games that I've ever been a part of... because we all lived up to the occasion," George said.

"Sometimes when you're in games like that, or occasions like that, it allows you to go to a place that you probably never thought you were capable of going.

"We're going to have to go to some dark places to get a win in Dunedin on Saturday," he said.


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