Autumn Nations Cup: Jamie George says England do not consider it a 'Mickey Mouse' trophy
England host France in the Autumn Nations Cup final on Sunday; Les Bleus head into the game without 25 of their best players due to an agreement with the Top 14; Jamie George says England want to learn from last year's World Cup final loss: "Hopefully it can be different this time around"
Last Updated: 05/12/20 10:43pm
Jamie George says there is nothing "Mickey Mouse" about the Autumn Nations Cup as England seek to win the inaugural final at Twickenham on Sunday.
France have picked a starting XV which boasts just 68 Test caps in comparison with an England side with 813 international games between them.
Les Bleus head coach Fabien Galthie was forced to field a shadow side due to an agreement struck with the Top 14 clubs that means he can select each player a maximum of three times across the autumn's six Tests.
Despite the potential for a one-sided final, George laughed off any suggestions that the Autumn Nations Cup is not an important tournament, adding that while the experience of playing in Test matches is good, exposure to playing in finals is invaluable.
"No one in this environment is calling it the Mickey Mouse Cup," George said.
"Inevitably the end goal of what we wanted out of this campaign was to be in this situation and to be in a position to win the trophy. That's our focus.
"It's great exposure for us; it's a great experience for us to be able to play in finals.
"I've been lucky enough to win a few at Saracens and the more experience you get in finals rugby the better you get."
The hooker referenced last year's World Cup final, where England were beaten 32-12 by the Springboks in Tokyo, as further motivation for silverware on Sunday.
"There are a lot of people in this team that have played in big finals before," he said.
"This time last year we were playing in a pretty big final and it didn't go our way. Hopefully it can be different this time around."
The 30-year-old says England are still expecting a big challenge from the French, as he feels they will head to London with a point to prove.
"It's going to be interesting to see where the French heads are at," he said.
"If I was in their shoes I'd be chomping at the bit to get my opportunity to play international rugby, to play England away at Twickenham - it's a big moment in their careers.
"But at the same time, we speak about it a lot in this environment, how much it means for us to play for our country also. Hopefully we can show everyone how much it does mean."
Fly-half George Ford knows from England's most recent tour to Argentina that France's shadow team will approach the Autumn Nations Cup final unburdened by fear.
England fielded a similarly inexperienced side when they toured Argentina in 2017 yet they won the Test series 2-0 while giving Tom Curry and Sam Underhill - now mainstays of the back row - their first caps.
"That tour certainly brought the best out of us. It's a motivating factor and it's one we're well aware of as a team," Ford said.
"We had 11 uncapped players, 11 guys who had got the opportunity to play for their country for the first time. It was almost like 'let's go for this, no fear'.
"It's an unbelievable privilege to play for your country. Whether it's your first cap or you're very inexperienced, whenever you're given an opportunity it's something you build your whole career for.
"That's what it will be like against these guys at the weekend. They've got an opportunity to represent their nation.
"Every time you pull the shirt on you want to be at your best and prove a point individually and as a team. I'd imagine it would be the same for them.
"Whoever they pick or select they're going to be dangerous. They'll be one of the best teams in the world regardless and are one of the most improved teams in the world.
"They've got some strength in depth there now. I was watching some individuals who could potentially play at the weekend and they're very good players in their own right. We've got to pay that the utmost respect.
"They'll be coming here chomping at the bit. We've got to expect the best French side to turn up at Twickenham on Sunday."