Rugby

Saracens boss Mark McCall lauds ‘remarkable’ Jamie George ahead of club return

The 33-year-old England captain is preparing to return to club rugby.

Jamie George found out his mother had been diagnosed with cancer on the day he was appointed England captain
Jamie George Jamie George found out his mother had been diagnosed with cancer on the day he was appointed England captain (Andrew Matthews/PA)

England captain Jamie George has been hailed as “incredible” ahead of his return to club rugby after resolutely leading his country through a Guinness Six Nations campaign during which his mother died.

Saracens hooker George discovered his mum Jane had been diagnosed with cancer on the same day he was appointed national team skipper in place of club-mate Owen Farrell.

She died from the illness on February 14, four days after England’s 16-14 round-two win over Wales at Twickenham.

Sarries director of rugby Mark McCall saluted George’s strength of character as he contemplates including him in his squad for Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership clash with rivals Harlequins.

“Just talking to our England players who were there, I think it was quite remarkable how he was able to go and captain the side,” said McCall.

“The first time being a captain of that side and to have suffered what he suffered with his mum dying as suddenly as she did.

“And they said he was incredible. He’s highly popular amongst all the playing group from all the clubs, so he did an incredible job.”

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall, left, saluted Jamie George’s strength of character
Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall, left, saluted Jamie George's strength of character Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall, left, saluted Jamie George’s strength of character (David Davies/PA)

George started each of his country’s five matches during the championship amid a difficult time in his personal life.

The 33-year-old has been given time off since the tournament but could still feature in this weekend’s derby with Quins at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as fly-half Farrell prepares for a milestone appearance for Saracens.

“We haven’t seen him this week,” said McCall. “We’ve given some some time away.

“He might (be involved), you never know. It’s Owen’s 250th game and he’s one of Owen’s best friends.

“What he didn’t need was a couple of training days, to be honest.

“He’s got a new baby. He needed to be at home with his family and he’s the sort of person that we would trust with one practice to come and be part of the 23 if he really wants to be part of Owen’s big day.”

Saracens captain Farrell, who sat out the Six Nations to prioritise his mental health, echoed McCall’s comments

“Jamie’s obviously had a lot going on recently,” he said.

Jamie George, left, replaced Saracens team-mate Owen Farrell, right, as England captain
Jamie George, left, replaced Saracens team-mate Owen Farrell, right, as England captain Jamie George, left, replaced Saracens team-mate Owen Farrell, right, as England captain (Ian Rutherford/PA)

“I thought the way he’s held himself over that period and led the team was outstanding and you can see by the way the boys ended up playing it really built up well through that time. I couldn’t be prouder.”

Reigning champions Saracens begin the Premiership run-in sitting fourth in the table as an era draws to a close.

Captain Farrell will join French side Racing 92 in the summer, while Mako Vunipola, who is available following a ban, and brother Billy are also set to depart.

“I don’t want to talk without them having completely finalised their plans,” McCall said of the Vunipolas. “But they are coming towards the end of their time with us.”