Jamie George needed an injection in the neck to be fit for the start of his spell as England captain and is yet to return to full training, Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said.
George was unveiled as Owen Farrell’s successor as England captain on Wednesday, but he is ruled out and is not deemed fit for Saracens’ crucial Champions Cup game against Lyon on Saturday. McCall is confident George will be fit to train fully when England head to the Six Nations training camp in Girona next week, but he has not appeared for his club since December 30.
“He’s not fit for the game against Lyon but nothing to worry about,” said McCall. “He had an injection in the neck about ten days ago and was recovering great. He has been training non-contact this week so he has been training with the team and he should start full contact training again next week when he is away to England.”
McCall expects George to do a “wonderful job” as captain of the England team and praised the influence the 33-year-old hooker will have during what he described as a “new dawn” at Saracens. George has committed to the club for another two years and Maro Itoje is expected to follow shortly, but McCall said a major overhaul was imminent, with Owen Farrell set for a move to Racing 92 and Billy Vunipola among a number of players out of contract had more, it was getting closer and closer to the end of the season.
McCall was unenthusiastic about Farrell’s impending move – revealing only that the former England captain had informed him of his decision – but admitted his side’s dynasty is coming to an end. “It is clear to everyone that the adventure we have had is coming to an end and a new adventure is beginning with a group of younger players that we are incredibly excited about,” said McCall.
“We had a meeting with the board where we presented a group of players who we thought would take us forward after 2014 and those were Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Jackson Wray, Will Fraser, George Kruis, Billy Vunipola, Owen Farrell and Alex Goode , I probably missed a few out there. They’ve had this 10-year adventure and it’s been incredible, but it’s coming to an end and a lot of these players won’t be here next year. It’s time for something new.”
McCall led Saracens to a liberating Premiership title last season – their second promotion back to the top flight after forced relegation – but they have been on the skids of late, suffering a record defeat to Bordeaux last weekend and losing five of their last seven games. They now have 10 days to effectively salvage their current season, with qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions Cup on the line, ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Lyon, followed by an important league game against Exeter before a lengthy break during the Six Nations.
Asked whether Farrell’s impending departure was a distraction – as former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio suggested last weekend – McCall said: “There are probably a lot of reasons why we’re not playing the way we want to and not getting the results “That’s what we want.” But those reasons aren’t really relevant and we just need to make sure we do as well as we can both this Saturday and next Saturday.”