Saints full-back Furbank eager to improve after eye-opening England experiences

George Furbank insists he still has a lot of hard work ahead of him as he reflects on a stellar season so far at Saints.

George Furbank
George Furbank

The full-back made the 15 shirt his own at Franklin's Gardens before time spent with England during the Six Nations allowed Harry Mallinder to step into the void.

The presence of those two players, along with Ahsee Tuala and hot prospect Tommy Freeman, means Saints are extremely well stocked at full-back.

And Furbank can't wait to get back in action for his club, having savoured the experiences he has had with England, for whom he made his debut against France in February.

“I am itching to get back into it but I have got to be patient,” Furbank said.

“I realise now that England is a proper step up from the club. You need to be world class in certain areas.

"My high ball game needs working on. I thought I was good at it but going into camp and seeing those boys do it, they were a step up.

"There is a lot of hard work to be done.”

Furbank, like the rest of the rugby world, is currently playing a waiting game as he continues the process of self-isolation.

But it has given him some time to look back on his eye-opening England appearances.

He started for an England team that suffered defeat in the Six Nations opener at Stade de France and then bounced back against Scotland at Murrayfield.

And Furbank said: “I had probably played in front of 20,000 people max and to walk out at the Stade de France with 80,000 people and you could barely hear each other, it was a hell of an experience.

“That debut week was pretty hectic. I allowed everything to come to mind a bit too much.

"The amount of messages I got, my phone was going crazy.

"As much as you try and be narrow minded, I probably didn’t do as good a job as I could have done in putting that to one side and messaging people afterwards.

“Now I will massively learn from that.

"I worked with the psychologist and I learnt a lot from her, which was really helpful.

"I probably enjoyed the Scotland week more, although we played in the worst conditions I have ever experienced.”

A groin problem meant Furbank missed the clash with Ireland and by the time the game with Wales arrived, the likes of Anthony Watson and Henry Slade had returned.

But England boss Eddie Jones is still a big admirer of Furbank.

And the 23-year-old said: "There was disappointment there because I would have loved to play at Twickenham. I was realistic with myself that I am probably not at their level yet.

“I know what I need to work on the mental and physical side.

“Eddie said he feels like I play a lot better when I have a clear head.

"He told me to clear my mind, to enjoy it and keep working hard, really smash the individual skills stuff and do my best to train and play with a clear mind.”

Furbank, a former Bedford School pupil, lives with Saints team-mates Alex Mitchell and David Ribbans, and the trio have already produced some interesting videos during self-isolation.

But dance moves are not the limit of Furbank's activities off the field as he has been working on his Open University degree in geography and environment science

And he has also been working on programmes with The Mintridge Foundation to build confidence and motivation in youngsters and encourage them into sport.

“I have found it really rewarding," Furbank said.

“I had one kid who really came out of his shell. He was just starting to play rugby at the start of our six months and by the end he couldn’t get enough of it.

"The aim is to assist them with things in life they find challenging that I can potentially help them with.

"One of the biggest pieces of advice I said was ‘Get out of your comfort zone’. I think that is massively important.

“It has made me reflect that I have been lucky on my journey.

"I wouldn’t say I have experienced loads of challenges along the way, like some of these boys have. So hearing their stories has been quite inspiring as well.”