Ellis Genge: Everything is 'different' and 'strange' back in England camp
By Sky Sports Rugby Union
Last Updated: 16/10/20 4:07pm
Leicester Tigers and England prop Ellis Genge chats exclusively to Sky Sports about returning to international camp, fatherhood, competition at loosehead and training at Test level...
Speaking to Sky Sports Rugby Union's Rupert Cox, Genge painted a picture of what the return to England training has been like in a Covd-19 affected world.
"It's been weird coming in with all the restrictions, and everything going on outside. Everything's different," Genge says.
"It's quite tough, with everything that's gone on, to come into this elite environment and having to flick the switch quite quickly, but I think we've done a good job of it this week and last week.
"It's been strange, but I love it."
England head coach Eddie Jones is famed for his brutal fitness and strength sessions, and the physical strain exerted on players.
For 25-year-old Genge, however, the step up in intensity and ambition at Test level compared to the club scene is a real driver.
"I actually quite enjoy doing it, when you're at international level," he added.
"When you're at the club, people are on different levels and you've got to find that balance.
"It's sort of like a wave, there's some people that want to be up higher, and others - as bad as it is - that don't want to progress any further and that's why they're not playing on the international stage.
"It's good to have people that have the same sort of goals as you, who are pushing you that hard.
"I think you get that little bit extra out of each other, so I do enjoy the competitive edge that you don't necessarily always get at club level."
Genge's position of loosehead prop is one of the strongest in terms of quality and depth that England have available at present.
Indeed Saracens' Mako Vunipola and Harlequins' Joe Marler have 123 caps between them, while Bath's Beno Obano has been one of the most consistent at Premiership level. Exeter, who will contest a European Cup final and Premiership final over the next two weeks, also boast Alec Hepburn and Ben Moon with their ranks.
'Baby Rhino' Genge has adopted a different mindset to competition for places in recent years, though, and it's one which has severed him better.
"I used to get so obsessed with that sort of stuff, and I sat down with the boss [Eddie Jones] and he said: 'Be yourself, that's when you're at your best, and just enjoy it'
"Ever since then, I haven't worried about selection, I've literally just enjoyed myself, been myself, gone as hard as I can every day and that's probably when I've played my most rugby in an England shirt.
"I'll just continue to do that, I don't worry about the boys. There are some serious players in my position: Beno [Obano], Mako [Vunipola], Joe [Marler], and boys that aren't even here yet, like Alec [Hepburn] and [Ben] Moon at Exeter.
"There are so many good looseheads about, but all I can do is control the controllables and give my all.
"The more I do that, the better I play, so it's just head down, ass up and keep trucking along."
Back in September, Genge captained Leicester for the first time in his career.
Is an increased leadership role and captaincy something the prop sees as an aim going forward?
"The thing with me is, and talking from experience in some regard, when you get the armband, some people change, but I didn't feel any change at all, I just said a bit more before the game.
"I like having the responsibility but I'm not a huge talker. I've probably got a good minute any given Sunday in me, but from then on in I'll just say follow me. Lead by actions as opposed to words.
"Some people like to talk a bit more and get a bit intricate, talk through more technicalities, I'm more so: 'boys I'll put my head in there, follow me in."
On a personal level away from the rugby field, Genge became a father for the first time in September, when baby boy Ragh Ellis Genge was born.
"I've changed as many nappies as I can! Because I feel useless otherwise and you just sit there and watch my partner do everything.
"But it's class - there's no feeling like it.
"Everyone says it really changes you as a person, but I haven't felt much of a change, but you just seem a bit older now that you get called a dad, as opposed to just being Ellis!"