Jamie George couldn’t quite believe it when England head coach Steve Borthwick told him he’d take over from Owen Farrell as captain of the national team.
The 33-year-old Saracens hooker doesn’t strike you as a traditional captain – he’s warm, sociable, humble and has the ear of a number of other senior players – but he is seemingly perfect for the role at a time where England need maturity and stability in a squad that looks very fresh.
England have not had a successful Six Nations for a number of seasons since winning the title in 2020, but having finished third in the Rugby World Cup last year in France there’s a fresh feeling around camp and George has hopes of getting the new cycle off to a competitive start.
George: I had offers
“I feel like I’m in a really good place physically,” George told City A.M. “I feel really good mentally, as determined as I have ever been to continue to play for England.
“However long that may last I do not know but I am nowhere near finishing yet.
“I would be lying if I said I hadn’t had contract offers abroad but for me staying in England is best for me and my family. I love playing for England and I am determined to be successful.”
England open their Six Nations account away in Rome on Saturday before hosting Wales at Twickenham.
In round three Borthwick’s men travel to Scotland for the Calcutta Cup before a second match at Twickenham, this time against Ireland.
England finish their campaign away to France, though it will be played in Lyon due to Olympic preparations at the Stade de France in Paris.
But George admits fans want more, and insists his captaincy can help motivate him to better England performances.
“We know that our record hasn’t been good enough over the last few years,” the forward adds. “The Six Nations is around the corner and it is an incredibly exciting time to be part of this English team.
“I am really excited about the Six Nations. There will be some new faces in and around the squad being a post World Cup year, and with some retirements and the rest of it.
“So it’s going to be fascinating and that’s really motivational for me.
“I am trying to create an environment that I am as accommodating as I can be to new people.
“I know how hard it is in any environment to come in as a new player, as a new member of staff, it can be quite daunting.
“One of my roles is being as welcoming as I can be. The most successful environments that I’ve been a part of are the ones where people are happy.
“I know it can be a stressful environment and making sure that we’re there for each other is going to be very important.”
People often turn their noses up at the idea of four-year international cycles, including Ireland and British and Irish Lions head coach Andy Farrell, but for teams who are looking for a new identity the first Six Nations after a World Cup often allows for the reset button to be hit.
England have a new look, a new vision and at the heart of it is George as their new captain.
George embodies England and his 85 caps span some of the national team’s highest highs and lowest lows in recent times.
But he, and England, will be judged on results and that journey begins on Saturday in Rome.
Jamie George is an ambassador for Funding Circle. For more information on Funding Circle and its range of financial products, see: https://www.fundingcircle.com/uk/