Eoin Morgan, a World Cup-winning captain this year, has urged England’s rugby team to stick to the methods that have served them so well when they face South Africa in the Yokohama final on Saturday.
Morgan, a keen Saracens fan, has spoken to the hooker Jamie George about the secrets to delivering on the big stage after his cricket side held their nerve in the super-over defeat of New Zealand at Lord’s in July. Asked about the prospect of an English World Cup double in 2019, Morgan said: “Their buildup over the last four years is quite similar in the way that we built our squad, and it’s been exceptional to watch.
“It’s great that these guys have got to this stage and created an opportunity to win a World Cup. They’ve thoroughly deserved it. All the chat with Jamie is about sticking to the process. The closer you get to the end of a plan or journey, the more you’re [tempted] to go away from the process because everything you want is just right there. If these guys keep drilling exactly what they want to do, they’ll get to where they want to be.”
As well as the rapport with Morgan – the Saracens squad sometimes gets along to Lord’s to watch Middlesex – George is a close friend of Sam Billings going back to their days at Haileybury school in Hertfordshire. Billings, so often a fringe player in England’s limited-overs teams but handed a fresh chance on the current tour of New Zealand, is inspired by the patience of George, who racked up a world-record 19 appearances from the bench before his first England start in 2017.
Billings said: “From very early on I realised he wanted to get to the top of his sport and he influenced me in terms of work ethic. There’s not a guy who works harder than Jamie. He had to wait for that opportunity when Dylan Hartley was captain. As soon as he got there, he absolutely ran with it.”
On George’s cricketing prowess, which has reportedly had an outing during corridor games in the England team hotel in Japan, the keeper said: “It was slightly agricultural but effective. He hit a clean ball. He’s very good at hockey, surprisingly. And people laugh when I say that in the 100 metres he was as quick as anyone. He seriously motors. As a sportsman, he is very lucky.
“In school rugby he’d play at No 8 to get him in the game more. If we were really struggling, he’d go to 12 or 13 – he was that good skills-wise.”