Eddie Jones’ mind games will not unsettle England against Japan – Jamie George

Jamie George insisted England would not be unsettled by any mind games from Eddie Jones as they prepared to face their former head coach for the first time since he was sacked in 2022.

Jones’ seven-year Twickenham stewardship ended 18 months ago because of an ongoing decline in results and after a disastrous and short-lived stint with Australia, he was placed back in charge of Japan.

In Tokyo on Saturday he will lock horns with his former number two Steve Borthwick in an intriguing sub-plot to the opening assignment of England’s summer tour, which also includes two matches against New Zealand.

Jamie George was given his first England start by Eddie Jones in 2017
Jamie George (left) was given his first England start by Eddie Jones (right) in 2017 (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Famed for his attempts to needle the opposition while creating a siege mentality around his team, Jones is expected to target Borthwick’s men this week.

“I’m not sure that we can distract ourselves or be worried about too much of that kind of thing,” England captain George said.

“This is a huge game for Eddie – his first game with Japan and us going back there for the first time since the 2019 World Cup. There are some great memories and some not-so great memories!

“But we’ve got a huge amount of respect for Eddie. He did great things for English rugby and he prepares his teams very, very well. He’ll have a really good plan in terms of how to break us down.

Jamie George is captain of England's tour to Japan and New Zealand
Jamie George is captain of England’s tour to Japan and New Zealand (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“When he speaks about Japanese rugby, he speaks a lot about moving the ball, playing a fast game, high tempo – so that’s possibly coming.

“But at the same time, who knows with Eddie – he’s a bit of a master of his craft, isn’t he?”

England begin Test week with an intriguing duel between Harlequins’ Marcus Smith and Fin Smith of Northampton brewing at fly-half.

George Ford’s absence from the tour because of a damaged Achilles has created a vacancy in the number 10 jersey that will be filled by either Quins’ electric playmaker or the general of Saints’ march to the Gallagher Premiership title.

The rivals offer different skill sets and George said: “What a brilliant opportunity for them to come in and really run the attack and be big leaders in this team.

“They have been brilliant – Marcus over a number of years and Fin this season has been so impressive with the maturity he has shown.

“George is like a coach in a player’s body, so we’re going to miss a player of his calibre. But we’ve got two amazing players to step up and we can share the load.”