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Focus On: Jamie George, England, Saracens, and former Haileybury hooker

“Talented hooker with outstanding leadership skills and a great future at the club”

 

The short and sweet sentence hovering underneath the picture of Jamie George on Saracens’ website and it sums up the 25 year old perfectly. At last count the forward has made 135 appearances for the North London outfit and has three England caps to his name.

 

Rugby has been a part of the Saracen’s life since he was a child, Jamie first laced up his boots at the age of five for Hertford RFC, before really hitting his stride at Haileybury College, where his father, Ian, was Head Coach.

 

George still speaks in glowing terms about his old school and their attitude towards developing players:

 

“Whenever I think back to the coaching at school, the word ‘enthusiasm’ always comes up.”

 

“The coaches were so keen on us learning the game, and were full of hope for our futures both as people and sports players. A lot of coaches get bogged down with tactics, but at Haileybury they just wanted us to get out there and start enjoying our sport, learning the simple techniques that would stand us in good stead whatever we did with the sport after school.”

 

Even now, the College is producing top players, 1st XV captain Nick Isiekwe has already represented the 1st XV, and, as was highlighted in our feature last week, they hosted both the USA and Argentina during the World Cup.

 

As for George, from delivering three tries in four games for England U18s to coming off the bench for his International debut against in Paris, Jamie gone on to show the ability to thrive from the school grounds right up to the greatest of stages.

 

Without question Saracens has been the perfect place for the hooker to craft his trade and the influence of Schalk Brits, in particular, as a mentor and team-mate has been invaluable. There are so many elements of Jamie’s game that have benefitted from the Springbok’s tutelage and training day in day out with such a great friend and competitor without question has accelerated his career no end.

 

In the summer England’s then coaching team spoke about their criterion for World Cup selection, individuals had to be excellent in every area and have a point of difference in two. Now clearly Eddie Jones’ philosophy may be slightly different when it comes to selection however regardless of the nuances’ Saracens’ hooker should be in the mix. I’m sure he won’t mind me saying it but Jamie has pace that belies his frame and is outrageously quick for a slightly larger athlete. The fresh faced and chirpy individual combines this pace with good hands and even better vision. The Aviva Premiership Final 2015 was the moment that the wider rugby audience saw this, when the outpaced George Ford and Kyle Eastmond to the line, however throughout his standout season last year breaks and tries from distance were the norm.

 

As a club Saracens is known for being one that divides opinions however from the perspective of an individual that has been there from the start and come through their academy it is the place to be. This is why the 25 year-old just re-signed a ‘long term’ deal with the North London outfit and why he takes so much pride in being part of the club;

 

‘I have loved every second I’ve spent at the club over these last six seasons, so I am delighted to have extended my stay here.

 

“I’m so pleased to commit my future to the club because I cannot imagine being anywhere better. Everything about the way Saracens treat players ensures you are always improving. I’m on England’s radar because of the club’s attitude to promoting young England-qualified players.”

 

Indeed Jamie is part of a great crop of young English talents coming through the side that was previously synonymous with housing South African talent. Will Fraser, Maro Itoje and George Kruis are just a few of the others that should have places in Eddie Jones’ notebook. In the 2015-16 competitive season Saracens are the only side in the entire Northern Hemisphere to remain unbeaten at this point in time, they’re not everyones cup of tea but regardless of your opinion you cannot deny their form and the talent young individuals like Jamie George.

 

By Emma Thurston

To see more from Emma, visit Out On The Full

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