Ellis Genge insists England are ready to take on Ireland’s scrum after grinding Georgia into submission in a 40-0 Autumn Nations Cup victory at Twickenham.
Two fiery training sessions against Los Lelos – the most recent of which ended in a fight – were avenged in a forward-dominated battle that produced a staggering 17 scrums, 31 line-outs and 11 mauls.
It was a predictable win fought out in driving rain that exposed the gulf in class between World Cup finalists and the game’s 12th ranked team, but it at least enabled England to test their forward depth.
A number of the personnel will be changed for the first true test of the autumn after Eddie Jones conceded that Ireland will pose different challenges, forcing “a rethink how we select the team”, and Genge believes a strong platform has been laid.
“This game puts us in good stead going into Ireland because they’re scrummaging quite well now. It will be a good battle there against Ireland,” Genge said.
“We were 7-0 up after 20-odd minutes. You’ve got to break teams like Georgia down and you get there in the end.
“In these forward battles, you’ve got to grind it out. Long scrums in the rain – it tires you out when you’re doing them for that long.
“This sets us up for what’s to come. It was a good performance but we’ve got a lot more in the tank. It shows how far we’ve come as a team to be able to get a result like that.
“When you do unit sessions and scrums during the week, you try not to empty the tank otherwise you can be quite sore. But then you get to a game like that and we had 17 scrums, which is loads.”
Genge was at the heart of the fisticuffs that exploded in Oxford in February 2019 when a live scrummaging session turned nasty, forcing coaching and backroom staff to separate the warring players.
A year earlier, England were taken apart at the scrum in a similarly charged afternoon of training in London as Georgia demonstrated a foundational strength of their game.
Since then, Los Lelos hooker Shalva Mamukashvili has joined Genge at Leicester Tigers and the two have buried the hatchet.
“Oxford was a long time ago. Shalva has come to the club and we had a straightener in the car park to sort it out!” Genge said.
“But no, he’s a good boy and we’ve got a lot of respect for each other. When you’ve dealt with the dark arts in the front row, you show a lot of mutual respect.
“Hats off to Georgia, they’re a great scrummaging side and we came out on top which we’re really pleased about.”
Jamie George was named man of the match after becoming the first England hooker to score a hat-trick of tries, each of them coming at the end of a line-out drive.
“We’re doing the hard yards and Jamie’s picking up the glory! Jamie’s a class act who has 51 caps for England for a reason,” Genge said.