George Kruis wants to be chosen for England’s Six Nations campaign on merit only and not because of his relationship with Steve Borthwick.
Kruis was mentored by Borthwick when the recently-appointed Red Rose forwards coach was captain at Saracens, the second rows working closely together for five years.
Even before his man-of-the-match display in Saturday’s 26-6 victory over Leicester, with Borthwick watching from the stands, Kruis was on course to start the Six Nations opener against Scotland on February 6.
Director of rugby Mark McCall has described him as a “shoo-in” for Murrayfield where an 11th cap awaits, but the 25-year-old insists his form alone will dictate whether he is picked in Eddie Jones’ first England team.
Mark McCall tells @5liveSport George Kruis is ‘nailed on’ to start for England
— Sonja McLaughlan (@Sonjamclaughlan) January 3, 2016
“It was nice of Mark to say I’m playing the best rugby of my career. It’s the first nice thing he has said!” Kruis said. “I am (playing well) but it makes it so much easier when you are in a pack with seven or eight young English lads doing the same thing. It will be an interesting one for selection come the Six Nations.
“I’m sure I’ll keep my fingers crossed, have a chat with Steve Borthwick in the coming weeks. He was a mentor for me definitely. When you play for five years alongside a player like that you learn a few things off him.
“But he is another coach and that is the way it is. There will be no favouritism and I would not want it to be like that. I like to feel that if I do get selected it would be off my own back and the hard work we and I have put in.”
Worcester boss Dean Ryan was left a frustrated man despite seeing his side come back from 24-3 down to secure a bonus point against Harlequins at a rain-sodden Sixways.
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A lethargic Worcester had trailed by 21 points after 45 minutes with a Charlie Walker double and a Luke Wallace effort for Quins. Nick Evans converted all three and added a penalty.
Worcester’s second-half rally saw them score tries from Marco Mama and Phil Dowson and a penalty try which Ryan Mills converted.
Ryan said: “I’m really disappointed, I’m sick of being described as plucky losers as we have to change that tag and I’m fed up of being close. Our kicking was woeful in the first half, we were trying to thread the ball through the eye of a needle and the first 40 minutes just wasn’t good enough.
— Ultimate Rugby (@ultimaterugby) January 3, 2016
“We haven’t got the experience of a Nick Evans or a Danny Care, who moved us around with some pinpoint kicking and Care’s kick to create their third try was outstanding.”
Worcester dominated possession and territory but their opponents were more clinical as the Warriors wasted opportunities and could not fully capitalise on the sin-binning of both Quins centres Jamie Roberts and George Lowe.
The Warriors’ first-half performance was probably their worst of the season and Quins did not have to do anything exceptional to lead 24-3 but they were transformed in the second period and in the end were unlucky losers.
— Harlequins (@QuinsRugbyUnion) January 3, 2016
Quins boss Conor O’Shea said: “For the first 45 or 50 minutes we were outstanding, we were disciplined and clinical and were still trying to play rugby in the difficult conditions. If we could play like that for the whole 80 minutes we would be some side.”
The major talking point of the game came in the 30th minute when Worcester’s fly-half Tom Heathcote was pole-axed by giant Quins lock Charlie Matthews.
After medical attention, Heathcore left the field and did not return. After consulting the TMO, referee Wayne Barnes ruled the challenge as fair, much to the disgust of the home fans and Ryan.
“He knocked the guy out and he’s still dazed,” fumed Ryan.
Alex Goode insists Saracens will continue to ignore their “boring” tag as they step up their Premiership title defence.
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young used the word to describe the champions’ style after Sunday’s 26-16 defeat at the Ricoh Arena, declaring: “You have to give them credit, but it’s a boring way to play.”
Saracens are known for their suffocating defence and kick-chase game, yet only Exeter have scored more tries in the Premiership this season and the London side are the form team in Europe.
Resurgent Leicester visit Allianz Park on Saturday in a fascinating clash between title rivals and Mark McCall’s men will persevere with tactics that have enabled them to amass 14 successive victories dating back to last season.
Dai Young to @bbc5live on Saracens gameplan: “It is boring, make no bones about it… but it’s very effective and very difficult to beat.”
— Chris Jones (@chjones9) December 27, 2015
“We have always had an attitude of worrying what’s inside the bubble,” England full-back Goode said. “From all accounts, what’s said about us has gone a full circle, going from being a bit negative to getting behind us and then going back to being negative again.
“It is a bit disappointing when a coach says that but it does not bother us as a group. We are not worried about what people say. We are top of the tryscoring stats, so it makes no difference to us.”
Leicester have won only one of the previous seven meetings between the English heavyweights – a 31-27 triumph in the 2013-14 season – and outside centre Mathew Tait admits a conservative gameplan serves Saracens well.
“Saracens are very good at what they do. It is a huge challenge for us down there but as a group we are excited about taking it on,” Tait said. Bath are hoping to post back-to-back victories for the first time this season when they travel to Newcastle with a win against relegation-threatened Worcester in the bank from last weekend.
“It’s just about making the next step now. We talk about the ‘next play’ a lot, no matter what’s gone before,” said openside Guy Mercer.
In other fixtures, London Irish will be seeking their second victory of the season when they travel to Gloucester while Sale host Wasps.