England and Jamie George inspired by cricketers’ example for World Cup final

The Guardian

The Guardian

Author 2019-10-31 00:30:04

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England’s rugby players have called on their cricketing counterparts for inspiration as they set about following in their footsteps and clinching World Cup glory. Eddie Jones’s side lock horns with South Africa in Saturday’s final and the hooker Jamie George has been seeking advice from Eoin Morgan.

George has spoken to the England one‑day captain on numerous occasions and believes England can learn from the cricketers’ dramatic super-over victory against New Zealand in July. George also sees similarities between the teams in that both endured calamitous World Cup campaigns in 2015. Much like the cricketers, George also revealed that England have been conducting clear‑the-air meetings, with the coaches banned from attending and the captain, Owen Farrell, delivering inspirational messages.

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“I’ve spoken to [Eoin] a few times, more around the culture rather than the World Cup final but I watched an interview with him that was pretty interesting, talking about the culture of the team but also the mindset of the team going into their final,” George said. “They had been through a bit more of a rollercoaster ride than we have in this tournament but there are certain similarities over the last two seasons or so.”

George is also close to the England cricketer Sam Billings, who missed the World Cup through injury but is now on tour in New Zealand. The pair went to school together and George said: “The video came out of us watching their World Cup final and, chatting to him, they will probably be sat around watching ours as well. It’s quite a cool thought.”

England go into the final in Yokohama as favourites having moved to No 1 in the world rankings for the first time since 2004 with their imperious win over the All Blacks. Morgan and co were also widely tipped to lift the World Cup trophy before their final against New Zealand but the nature of their dramatic victory has served as a warning to George.

“A big thing that I have thought about is your ability to perform your skills under the highest pressure,” he said. “If you think back to that super over and the last run-out – Jason Roy’s throw – he had to pick the ball up first, the ball is coming to him at speed, he’s done it a thousand times before but doing it under that pressure knowing he needs to get it there in that moment. Things like that. Doing your job under pressure. I read that all Jason Roy could think about was getting the ball into his hands. He was thinking about the process rather than thinking about the big picture.”

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George said Farrell will host another of his captain’s meetings on Friday night and deliver one last call to arms. The togetherness of England’s squad was tested during their World Cup training camps when an altercation between Ben Te’o and Mike Brown led to both being jettisoned by Jones in August. George, however, has praised Farrell’s meetings as a way of uniting the squad.

“Everyone is hanging on every word he says,” George said. “It is very inspirational without tearing the roof down because that is probably not what is needed. He has a very good feel of what the team needs and what messages he needs to deliver. There are no coaches in the room. He just asks us how we are feeling and if anyone has anything to say. Often people will get something off their chest if they are thinking about the game and then he says his bit and without fail you could hear a pin drop.

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“As a leader I can’t speak highly enough of him. He is the sort of person you want to follow. He leads from the front but at the same time you know for a fact the messages he is giving you he has been thinking over and over again. He is very good at delivering a theme and messages that build up nicely throughout the week.

“Owen talks a lot about how the buildup starts through the week but it also starts from the minute you wake up on the Saturday – the image you give off to the people around you, even in the way you walk to breakfast. You are always constantly giving off a message to other people about your mindset and how you are feeling.”

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