December 12 2013 Latest news:
By James Cunliffe
Friday, September 6, 2013
Hooker Jamie George says he could not have had better mentors than Saracens’ South African legends Schalk Brits and John Smit – and he now feels ready to replace the latter at Allianz Park.
The 2007 World Cup-winning skipper Smit – the most-capped Springbok in history – called time on a hugely distinguished career at the end of last season to become the CEO of his hometown club The Sharks in Durban.
That is likely to give 22-year-old George a more prominent position in the Sarries squad, competing with Brits for the No2 jersey – and he feels that working alongside his world-class team-mates has stood him in good stead.
“It’s a great opportunity and I’m really grateful just to be playing in a Saracens shirt,” said George ahead of the Premiership season opener against London Irish at Twickenham on Saturday.
“With John leaving, it might leave me a few more opportunities to do that. Hopefully I can take those, move forward again and rotate with Schalk.
“I couldn’t have asked for two better people to act as mentors for me. It isn’t just stuff on the field, but off it as well. They are two very different characters and rugby players.
“They play in very different ways – Schalk plays a very expansive game and is a very good lineout thrower, while John was a brilliant scrummager and excellent in the tight, so I got the best of both worlds learning from those two guys.
“I feel like that’s helped me to progress a lot over the last two seasons and I’m really grateful to Saracens for having those guys in.”
Like everyone who plays in the front row, George will have to get used to scrum changes this season with a global trial of a new engagement sequence – referees will now issue the commands “crouch, bind, set,” aimed at enhancing player welfare by reducing impact.
“The ball is going to be coming in straight so we’ll have to hook for the ball, but it doesn’t change the role massively for us,” said George.
“The scrums might look a bit different as there’s not as much of an impact on the engage and that might save our necks a little bit.
“It slightly takes some of the fun out of it but so far it’s gone really well and in the pre-season games we’ve been looking good. There are a lot less resets and we are learning on the move because everyone is new to it.
“I’m sure the scrums will be different from the start of the season to the end of it because we’ll all learn new things and we’ll know what we have to do to win the ball and be successful. It’s going to be an interesting one.”
•George was speaking as Saracens visited the Metro Golf Centre which is situated yards away from Allianz Park. The club aim invest in former Copthall site, working alongside partners such as the Metro Golf Centre to deliver a vibrant sporting hub for the community.