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Jamie George determined to impress when England opportunities arise

Published 22/11/2016

Jamie George is understudy to England captain Dylan Hartley
Jamie George is understudy to England captain Dylan Hartley

Jamie George has come to terms with playing a supporting role to England's captain by accepting he is aiming for minutes not starts.

Eddie Jones has made it clear that Dylan Hartley, who has presided over a 11-Test winning run, will not be dislodged as starting hooker, claiming his rivals in the position must console themselves with second-half cameos.

At the front of the chasing pack is George, the Aviva Premiership's joint leading try-scorer whose established set-piece expertise is being matched by a developing all-round game.

On playing form alone the 26-year-old Saracen should be taking his place in the front row and while benefiting from an increasing number of minutes - he played 29 in Saturday's victory over Fiji - he knows Hartley is made indispensable by his leadership

"I've decided not to look at it like I'm the understudy to the captain," George said.

"I've just got to be ready as I can be for when the opportunity comes, whether that is seven minutes off the bench or like the half an hour I got at the weekend. I need to impress every time I get the opportunity to.

"Dylan is doing a great job, he leads from the front . He's a brilliant captain of this team.

"But the more I can impress in training, in games, the more game time potentially I get. That has been my mindset and Eddie didn't really need to tell me that. It becomes obvious.

"It has been going well for me, I've been getting some good game time in the last two matches so I'm pretty happy with that. I've just got to keep working hard for when the time comes.

George made his debut in a World Cup warm-up match against France in 2015 and none of his 10 caps have come as a starter.

"I'd love to get more starts. Experience wise I've played in a lot of big games for Saracens - a lot of European games and a lot of finals. I've started a lot of those games" he said.

"With England it's more about minutes on the pitch for me. The longer I can experience international rugby, the better I can be. Whether that's starting or off the bench, my main focus is minutes."

England's quest to post a 13th successive Test victory when they face Argentina on Saturday has received a boost with the availability of George Kruis, who has made a swift recovery from ankle surgery.

Kruis is expected to replace the suspended Joe Launchbury in the second row and George marvels at the squad's depth at lock.

"George brings so much to this team. His knowledge of the line-out is second to none," George said.

"I haven't worked with too many people like him, other than maybe (forwards coach) Steve Borthwick. He's a fantastic asset for us and a world class player.

"George is a light-hearted guy who likes a joke. I've known him for a number of years at Saracens and he's one of the big characters in the squad. He's liked by everyone.

"When he first came in, he built up that respect and that transfers off the field. He's a big voice and character.

"The second row group we've got at the minute is unbelievable. We've got guys like Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes so there's nothing to worry about. The guys that we have at our disposal is pretty scary."

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