Jamie George has urged his England teammates to come together and show just how good they can be following their Calcutta Cup defeat at home to Scotland.
For the second successive year, Eddie Jones’ men suffered opening weekend defeat, this time to an inspired Scotland as their 11-6 victory ended 38 years of hurt – having not won at Twickenham since 1983.
The visitors pounced on any penalties England gave away and Duhan van der Merwe’s try, coupled with six points from Finn Russell’s boot, set up a famous win.
Owen Farrell kicked six points in reply but England were left to rue their ill-discipline, and George believes the reigning champions must take a long look in the mirror if they are to step their standards up for the remainder of the Championship.
“I’m gutted, really,” George said. “We were just not quite at the races. We were lethargic, ill-disciplined and that meant we just couldn’t apply any pressure.
“Scotland did what they did really well so a lot of credit has to go to them. A lot of the press will be around how poor we were but the execution of their game plan was excellent.
“They put us under a huge amount of pressure at set-piece time, which was frustrating.
“But we’ve got to have a good look at ourselves. When you play for England you need to make sure that there’s certain standards that you hold yourself to and we didn’t do that.
“The main message is: let’s look forward and do as much as we possibly can for the rest of the tournament to be a better team because we’re going to have to be off the back of that performance.”
Press conference: Owen Farrell and Eddie Jones
On the 150th anniversary of the famous old rivalry, Gregor Townsend’s side dominated the play as they held the lion’s share of possession and territory.
But the real difference came in discipline as England conceded more than double the number of penalties of their opponents to the tune of 15-6.
And George, part of the England side who last played in the Autumn Nations Cup final two months ago, thinks the hosts were guilty of being too anxious to get going.
He added: “We were all hugely excited to be back at Twickenham playing rugby. I think we were probably just a bit twitchy, a bit on edge.
“Therefore, the ill-discipline crept in, we were just too keen to get involved.
“Maybe that might have been a consequence of not playing too much rugby, just desperate to get into the game.
“We’re hugely proud of our record at Twickenham and I can’t tell you how gutted we are as a team.
“What it will do is it’ll bring us closer together and we’ll make sure that there’ll be a hunger and a desire to get better and finish the rest of this tournament in a much better position than we’ve put ourselves in now.”
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Despite the defeat, a repeat of 2020 would do just fine for Jones’ team.
Twelve months ago, similar inquests were being held after England’s defeat to France in Paris, but they fought back to win their final four games and ultimately the Championship.
With Italy next up on home turf, George is confident a similar turnaround can take place.
“We don’t like to dwell on the defeat too much but your hunger and desire to get training and get back to it is enhanced,” George added. “You spend that much more time focusing on the opposition.
“You’re a bit wired in terms of wanting to get better and wanting to get the win the following week.
“That’s what we did last time (in 2020) and we’ll make sure that happens again this week and do everything that we can to put in a significantly better performance.
“What is required is a positive mindset from everyone in the group and a mentality that we want to get better.
“It’s going to be a good week looking at what went wrong, what we can do better and moving ahead to Italy.
“I’m pretty confident we can come in next week and put in a much better performance.”