England must be brave enough to make mistakes, says George

BAGSHOT, England : Coach Steve Borthwick and captain Jamie George said on Thursday that England’s players must not be afraid of making errors when they take on the mighty challenge of Ireland, but they would rather not make as many as they did two weeks ago.

After a bright start against Scotland, England went to pieces, throwing wild passes and dropping easy passes in a ragged display. In all they made 25 handling errors and were turned over an incredible 22 times en route to a 30-21 defeat.

Equally as worrying was that when replacement winger Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, who gets his first start on Saturday, darted through for a try with 14 minutes remaining, England failed miserably to mount any further meaningful attacks as Scotland cruised home.

“When we reflect on that Scotland game the most disappointing thing is how we deviated from what we wanted to do,” George said on Thursday ahead of the Twickenham clash. “We’ve spoken quite openly about not being afraid of making errors, but obviously when you repeat those errors back to back that becomes a bit of an issue.

“Then I think probably off the back of that we went a bit individual at times, and probably tightened up a little bit. So for us the last couple of weeks in particular has been around making sure that we can be ourselves, making sure that it is still okay to make mistakes but that we’re going to learn very quickly from those. Because we are a team that wants to push things, we want to see where we can take things.

“The blueprint of how we wanted to play in those first 20 minutes against Scotland was outstanding, the way that we went out and acted on that gameplan was great. The disappointing thing was that we gifted them a lot, and that was largely down to people straying away from the plan.”

Borthwick, who has also recalled lock George Martin and scrumhalf Alex Mitchell in three changes from the team beaten at Murrayfield, was asked why players who were tearing up trees for their clubs a few weeks ago seemed to regress when playing for England and whether he recognised the concept of the white shirt “weighing heavy” whereas the green of Ireland, red of Wales and blue of Scotland so often seems to have the opposite effect.

“I think we try to make an environment where the players enjoy it, where we know mistakes are going to be made, but it’s about continuing to do the right things,” he said.

“I back the players. Yes we made errors, we’re disappointed in the performance and we’re disappointed in the result. But I also think this is a group of players that have made enormous progress over the last year, and now we’ve started the next step of the journey in this Six Nations.”

Saturday’s match will be Borthwick’s 20th since replacing Eddie Jones and though fans are getting a little tired of his constant claim that it is a “new team with new coaches” he reiterated his view that it is a work in progress.

“The first period was around getting the team right for the World Cup and then understanding that, post-World Cup, the responsibility is building the next phase. And that’s where we are right now – building the next phase,” he said.

“We’ve played three games in that next phase of understanding where we are. We’ve had to adapt with some of the unavailability of certain players and then bringing young players through who potentially not that long ago, we weren’t talking too much about. But we’ve seen the emergence of five new caps in this championship, for England which I think is a big positive step for us.”


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