In a surprising turn of events, Jamie George has embraced the pressure of taking over as England captain for the upcoming Six Nations tournament. Despite witnessing the strain that the position placed on his close friend Owen Farrell, George believes that "pressure is a privilege" and is ready to lead his country.
Farrell, who captained England to a third-place finish at the World Cup last year, will be taking a mental health break from international rugby and will miss the Six Nations. The 32-year-old fly-half faced intense social media scrutiny leading into the tournament and even received whistles from fans in France during the event.
Furthermore, it was announced on Monday that Farrell will be joining Paris-based Racing 92 at the end of the season, potentially marking the end of his international career. Rugby Football Union regulations prevent players at overseas clubs from being selected for England, except in exceptional circumstances.
Despite the challenges and scrutiny that come with the captaincy, George is honored to have been chosen for the role. Speaking at the Six Nations launch in Dublin, the 33-year-old hooker stated that leading England in the tournament will be the "greatest achievement" of his life.
George also expressed his hope that lessons have been learned from Farrell's situation and that there will be a more positive environment for players. He believes that people now have a better understanding of the reality of professional rugby players and recognizes that they are all human beings.
Acknowledging the additional pressure and responsibility that comes with the captaincy, George revealed that he had discussed the role with Farrell, who offered his support. George considers Farrell's willingness to be there for him and have conversations whenever needed as invaluable.
As England prepares for their Six Nations opener against Italy in Rome on February 3, all eyes will be on Jamie George as he takes on the captaincy. With Farrell's absence and potential departure from international rugby, George has the opportunity to make his mark and lead his team to success.