Ge­orge in­sists Eng­land are ready to face Black-lash

South Wales Echo - - Rugby Union -

JAMIE Ge­orge in­sists Eng­land are braced to face New Zealand at their most dev­as­tat­ing af­ter be­ing served no­tice of what Sat­ur­day’s Twick­en­ham show­down means to the world cham­pi­ons.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has billed the clash as big­ger than last year’s se­ries against the British and Ir­ish Li­ons, which fin­ished in a 1-1 stale­mate af­ter three grip­ping Tests.

“It makes us aware of where their heads are at for the game. The way they’ve spo­ken this week is ex­cit­ing and we’re ready to rip into it,” Sara­cens hooker Ge­orge said.

The ri­vals meet for the first time since 2014 with New Zealand over­whelm­ing favourites to land a psy­cho­log­i­cal blow ahead of the 2019 World Cup and Eng­land are ea­ger to dis­cover their place in the global hi­er­ar­chy.

“We’ve been think­ing about this game for a lit­tle while. When Ed­die first came in he said we want to be the best team in the world and New Zealand are that at the mo­ment,” Ge­orge said.

“We want to mea­sure our­selves against those guys and see how far away we are.”

Five of Ed­die Jones’ start­ing XV have ex­pe­ri­enced vic­tory over New Zealand, the most re­cent win com­ing on a Li­ons tour which pro­duced a mem­o­rable tri­umph in Welling­ton in the sec­ond Test.

“That day is prob­a­bly the best feel­ing of my rugby ca­reer so far and hope­fully we can re­peat that,” said Ge­orge, who was the first choice hooker through­out the se­ries.

“Half of us have beaten the All Blacks be­fore and we’ve drawn on those ex­pe­ri­ences this week.

“We’ve spo­ken about what we need to do to beat them and what worked pre­vi­ously. That will be very valu­able for us.

“We’ve fo­cused on why we won those games.”

Joe Sch­midt be­lieves the next two matches will hand Ire­land a clear World Cup 2019 yard­stick.

Ire­land host Ar­gentina and backto-back world cham­pi­ons New Zealand in Dublin on suc­ces­sive Satur­days, with head coach Sch­midt ex­pect­ing a stern bat­tle against both na­tions.

Ar­gentina dumped Ire­land out of the 2015 World Cup with a fine 43-20 vic­tory in the quar­ter-fi­nals, while the All Blacks have topped the world rank­ings since 2009.

Ire­land could over­haul the All Blacks into world num­ber one spot be­fore the year is out, but only with vic­tory in Dublin on Novem­ber 17 and Sch­midt knows his side could be fac­ing a defin­ing few days ahead.

Asked how telling the next 10 days could prove with next year’s World Cup in mind, Sch­midt replied: “Yes, where we are right now, it will tell us a lot and I think re­gard­less of what hap­pens in the next 10 days, ev­ery­thing is a bench­mark.

“In par­tic­u­lar, this is our first south­ern hemi­sphere game of this se­ries and you saw in Aus­tralia (in June), the way that south­ern hemi­sphere rugby is played is worth a fair bit of free­dom.”

Stu­art Hogg has been passed fit to re­turn for Scot­land against Fiji just eight weeks af­ter an­kle surgery.

The Glas­gow full-back was ex­pected to be side­lined for 10-12 weeks and miss the en­tire au­tumn Test se­ries.

But he starts on Sat­ur­day, with Sean Mait­land, Finn Rus­sell and Greig Laid­law, who will cap­tain the side, also back af­ter miss­ing the Wales game.

Cen­tre Huw Jones is dropped, Pete Horne start­ing, while Ex­eter lock Sam Skin­ner is handed his de­but.

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