front row union

'I’m going to be speaking to his agent' - George impressed with Furlong

The Saracens and England hooker has been excellent for the Lions.

Murray Kinsella reports from Queenstown

WHILE JAMIE GEORGE’S parents had the pleasure of being in Wellington to watch their son help the Lions to a second Test victory over the All Blacks, they have had to fly home before the series decider this Saturday.

Work back at home in England has demanded their return and it would have been hard for them to say goodbye as their boy gets ready for his bid to make history with the Lions.

Jamie George and Maro Itoje celebrate winning George was excellent in the second Test. Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

It was sad for George to bid them farewell, but he does at least still have some other support on the ground in New Zealand.

“I don’t think they expected me to play!” says the hooker of his parents. ‘They have to get back for work. I’m sure they’ll be here in spirit.

“I’ve still got my girlfriend and her family, and my uncle and cousin are still here doing the camper van – they are having a great time.”

George has been among the Lions’ most impressive players on this tour despite the rather bizarre fact that he had never started a Test game before lining out for the tourists in the first All Blacks clash two weekends ago.

His tackling has been particularly outstanding, while his set-piece work has also been excellent apart from two lineout losses last weekend in torrential rain in Wellington.

“I’ve taken a lot of confidence from the way that I’m playing,” says the Saracens man. “I’m learning a lot from the people around me, the likes of Tadhg [Furlong] and Alun Wyn [Jones]. In the tight five it’s great playing alongside players like that.

“To be run around by Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton is pretty special. I’m really happy with the way I’m playing and I’m just going to try and keep my head down and keep working hard and really looking forward to Saturday now.”

Tahg Furlong, Jamie George and Mako Vunipola The Lions front row has a big weekend ahead. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

It’s difficult to imagine how Eddie Jones will continue to pick Dylan Hartley ahead of George for England next season, but the fact that he has played second fiddle for his country was not an issue for Warren Gatland ahead of the Lions tour.

George’s brilliance for Saracens was a strong enough indicator to the Lions boss that he was ready to be a starter.

“As soon as I got on the plane really, the message from Gats was that he was going to pick the best players to beat the All Blacks so I knew that I had an opportunity to do that,” says George.

“I think the one thing that I needed to do was to be confident enough to show my leadership, especially in and around scrum time and I’ve built into that the more that the tour has gone on.

“I feel really comfortable doing that now and it’s very easy when you’ve got people like Alun Wyn and that around you, it’s pretty special.”

Linking up with Ireland’s Tadhg Furlong in the front row has been an enjoyable experience for George too, and he feels they have built a strong connection that he hopes will have its best outing yet at Eden Park on Saturday.

Indeed, the 26-year-old even jokes that he hopes to see Saracens swoop to sign Furlong soon.

Tadhg Furlong and Jamie George George is enjoying playing with Furlong. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“I’m going to be speaking to his agent,” says George with a laugh. “Formal negotiations are going ahead. I’m looking forward to seeing him in black and red!”

While that may be a pipe dream, it suddenly feels like a Lions Test series success might not be the fantasy so many had thought it was.

Having downed the All Blacks on a brilliant occasion in Wellington, George and his team-mates have some belief that they can make more memories in Auckland in the third Test.

“The way that the Lions fans were that night is something that I’ll never forget for the rest of my life,” says George of last weekend.

“I had a lot of family in the stands and they were in floods of tears before the game based on the atmosphere and it made the occasion so much more special.”

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