England were removed from title contention after being toppled by Andy Farrell’s men in a classic Test that was only decided in the closing stages, despite the hosts playing with 14 men for all but the opening 82 seconds after Charlie Ewels was sent off for a dangerous tackle.
What followed was a stirring act of defiance as an 8-0 deficit was pegged back to 15-15 with 15 minutes to go before Jack Conan and Finlay Bealham struck late on to propel Ireland out of sight.
“In 18 months’ time when we prepare for a World Cup we’ll look back and say that was our statement game we can hold ourselves to,” said George, who alongside Maro Itoje and Ellis Genge were totems of English resistance.
“That game is the benchmark for what we want to try to be at. Give us an extra player and we might have pushed it a little bit closer. Sometimes a performance like that can make you realise what you’re actually capable of. That’s why it’s odd.
“We lost and I’m genuinely gutted we can’t win the tournament, but at the same time there is so much to come from that game, to take from that game.
“We have to win against France on Saturday. I’m desperate to win. Not for any reason other than we deserve to off the back of the performance we put in here.
“Maybe ‘need’ to win is the wrong word but we owe it to ourselves to go to Paris and really ruffles some feathers.”
France are odds-on favourites to complete the Grand Slam despite only narrowly edging Wales and head coach Eddie Jones is convinced England can storm Paris. “We’ve beaten France in our last two games so we’ve got a pretty good idea of how to play against them,” said Jones.
“We’ve taken massive steps forward in this Six Nations.”
Analysis: Page 5