Infectious learning drive can still help England land Six Nations title

England's Jamie George during the G21-13 loss to Wales at the Principality Stadium. Picture: Paul Harding/PA
England's Jamie George during the G21-13 loss to Wales at the Principality Stadium. Picture: Paul Harding/PA
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AS the dust settled on England’s late loss in Cardiff, hooker Jamie George insisted the squad’s desire to learn and improve was “infectious” and defeat would only aid their World Cup preparations.

Saturday’s 21-13 reverse, after conceding two late tries, ended hopes of an England grand slam but Eddie Jones’s side do remain favourites to claim the Six Nations championship.

That is now the goal with home games against Italy and Scotland remaining but, in the interim, Saracens star George offered an insight into what they will glean from the painful loss.

“We are definitely going to learn from this,” he said.

“We are a team that genuinely week on week – and I have never been a part of like it in any England, Saracens or Lions team – is desperate to learn and get better.

“That’s infectious. If you are not like that, it chews you up and spits you out.

“We are definitely going to learn from that and be a better team because of this.”

However, perhaps sewing a seed in case the sides meet in the World Cup later this year, Wales head coach Warren Gatland mischievously dropped into the post-match press conference how he “questioned whether they (England) can win these big games” when it really mattered.

It was a suggestion that irked George, who played under Gatland for the Lions two years ago.

“I think that’s unfair,” he said, Wales now aiming for the grand slam with their remaining games in Edinburgh and at home to champions Ireland.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland (left) greets England head coach Eddie Jones before the Six Nations clash in Cardiff on Saturday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture: David Davies/PA

Wales head coach Warren Gatland (left) greets England head coach Eddie Jones before the Six Nations clash in Cardiff on Saturday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture: David Davies/PA

“Listen, Warren can say what he likes; he is in a position of power after winning that game so fair play to them.

“What I know having been in the camp is that we are a team that wants to build and we are a team that wants to improve. We will learn from this.

“We have won big games before and we are going to win big games again.”

George also bristled at the suggestion the game may have meant more to Wales, who had not won against England in the Six Nations since 2013 and duly completed a record 12th successive Test win.

Warren can say what he likes; he is in a position of power after winning that game so fair play to them. We have won big games before and we are going to win big games again.

England hooker Jamie George

“It definitely does not mean more to them,” he added, with Wales roared on by a vociferous home crowd.

“We have got the most passionate team I have ever been a part of. I wouldn’t say it means more to them.

“Let’s take it back to Ireland (England’s opening win in Dublin) when people were talking about how we were wearing our hearts on our sleeves. Hopefully, we will always show that.”

On the crackling atmosphere in the Principality Stadium, George added: “I enjoyed it. Genuinely.

“Some people call it hostile but I loved being out there. I really did. It brings a smile to your face.

“You should have seen the boys in warm-up when it was louder than I’ve ever played a Test match in and the boys were smiling.”

England have replaced Courtney Lawes with Charlie Ewels for their four-day training camp in Oxford, which involves two days working with the Georgia side.

Second-row Lawes sits out the rest of the Six Nations due to a calf strain sustained against Wales, giving Bath’s Ewels the chance to fight for his place.

Maro Itoje is missing from the 25-man squad that will assemble in Oxford today, but the Saracens lock will continue his rehabilitation with England’s medical team.

Bath flanker Sam Underhill and full-back Anthony Watson will join up but only to have their fitness assessed after injuries.

Apart from Lawes, all 23 of England’s matchday squad for the Principality Stadium showdown are present with Nathan Hughes and Ben Te’o also added.