Forwards coach Matt Proudfoot is confident that England’s first strikers will be ready to face Scrum Springbok thanks to ‘Fight Club’ training and calls from colleagues affected by Covid-19.
Hooker Jamie Blamire, who has been used exclusively as a substitute by the Newcastle Falcons this season, is about to start in the front row on Saturday alongside Bevan Rodd, who made his debut last week against Australia. Proudfoot revealed that Ellis Genge and Joe Marler, who can still make a dramatic return to the team on Friday, have been in contact since their isolation from Covid via video messages to convey their advice. “We built a plan and consulted them because they have a lot of knowledge and know-how,” Proudfoot said. “They are giving everything they can to help this group of strikers move forward.”
No one knows better the threat posed by the Springboks ahead than Proudfoot, who was at the helm of the South African herd that pulverized England in Yokohama two years ago. Now on the opposite corner, Proudfoot has been developing his young strikers in what he calls a “fight club.” Unlike Brad Pitt’s version, there’s no real scrapping involved – “it’s just a label we use” – while Proudfoot breaks the first rule by disclosing its existence.
“It’s what the front rows do,” Proudfoot said. “It’s just a unique name to call a front-row club. It’s where we take the front line through extra technical, tying and physical work to improve them as players. We try to create all the scenarios to add to our players and make them better. more to do with the concussion and how we train the body. You have to structure the work carefully, so we put it in at the beginning of the week, it’s good for young people. “
It was Blamire’s performance during the ‘fight club’ over the summer that convinced Proudfoot that the prostitute has the right character to face the Springboks. Blamire is poised to have his chance after Jamie George injured his knee in the 32-15 win over Australia. Winning just their fourth game against the world’s most formidable set piece would seem like a daunting proposition to most. However, if it sinks or nothing, Proudfoot believes the Cumbrian can keep his head out of the water.
“That’s what we identify in Jamie; like having a strong character, having a lot of personal struggle, ”Proudfoot said.“ When he came into camp early, in the summer, we threw him into what we call Fight Club and the way he came in was really promising.
“It showed a lot of what’s inside the man. We know he has a great future ahead and we’ve invested in it. You can go back in history and look at all the great players: the first time they had the chance, the narrative would be, ‘Are you ready?’ Aren’t you ready? ‘ But it’s about how you get it. “