SARACENS’ England contingent have been compared with Manchester United’s ‘Class of 92’ – and George Kruis believes the same sense of brotherhood is developing among Eddie Jones’s men.
The analogy was made by Paul Gustard, who played and coached at Allianz Park before being appointed as one of Jones’s lieutenants, enabling him to view and contribute to the development of players such as Kruis, Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and Mako Vunipola.
Saracens marched to an Aviva Premiership and European double last season and Gustard sees a similarity to their core of English players and the contribution of Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs and the Neville brothers to United’s dominance of club football on these shores.
“People spoke about the Class of ‘92 at Man United, well Saracens had their own class,” Gustard said.
“Once one started achieving there was enough peer pressure that they all wanted to out-perform each other and strive to do things together. They are a close group.”
Kruis, who is expected to be selected in the second row alongside Courtney Lawes when England name their team to face Argentina this morning, insists the bond is not confined to Saracens.
“Definitely there’s a sense that, as a group, we’ve got responsibility for each other,” Kruis said.
“When you have five or six players coming through together it’s like that competition between brothers. It always pushes you a little bit further.
“We’ve got a good respect for each other which means you have to turn up each week and ultimately play well for each other.
“At Saracens it’s dragged a lot of people along with us. We’re a very young team still, with a hell of a lot of experience. It’s exciting for us.
“And I think it extends to England, I really do. If you look at what England have tried to build here, then there are a lot of similarities here between club and country.
“If you look at results there are a lot of similarities as well. You’ve got to breed a culture in which people want to improve and constantly push each other.”
Kruis travelled between Saracens and England for his rehabilitation and has made the quickest possible comeback from the ankle surgery that threatened to rule him out of the entire autumn program.
Just over five weeks separate the 26-year-old from undergoing the procedure to lining up against Argentina.
“I never gave up playing in these games. I just wanted to get back to playing as soon as I could for either club or country,” Kruis said.
“There were few things wrong with the ankle. There was a bit of wear and tear and for the last year, there were two bits of floating bone in the joint. I’d been able to play on but more recently it’s been shutting down, so after the Toulon game, I spoke to both parties and we decided I needed to get it taken out as soon as possible.
“Before I was struggling with it – I could do the session but I’d want to get off my feet as soon as possible. I am really glad I’ve done it. I’ve got lots of confidence in the ankle now. I woke up 2 or 3 days after the op and thought it already feels better, the pressure in the foot feels less.”
When considering an immediate return to the starting XV, Kruis draws inspiration from Farrell’s man of the match comeback for Saracens against Toulon having been out for almost three months.
“We are in an environment now where you can push yourself in the weeks leading up to it as much as you can. We’ve got everything available to be in peak condition,” Kruis said.
England insist the decision to drop Semesa Rokoduguni for Saturday’s clash is based on the desire to restore Jonny May to the starting XV.
Rokoduguni’s Bath team-mates Matt Banahan and Matt Garvey have expressed their surprise after the wing was sent back to the Recreation Ground despite scoring two tries in Saturday’s 58-15 victory over Fiji.
Banahan tweeted: “Just caught up with the news Rocco has been released after his display at the weekend, what message does that send after a MOM #whybother?”
Garvey was equally confused by the axing of the 29-year-old, tweeting “Words fail me! #rokoduguni”
May will replace Rokoduguni on the right wing after being given an extra week to sharpen his conditioning having started the opener against South Africa, while Elliot Daly wins a second opportunity on the left wing after excelling against Fiji.
“We’ve seen this before haven’t we between week one and week two of the autumn. Jonny May had a good game against South Africa and scored a try,” Gustard said. “On a game by game basis we have to pick a team that we think is most appropriate for the threats that we are going to face and for the opportunities that we want to exploit.”