Leicester Tigers prop Ellis Genge says his England side are ‘constantly building’ following a powerful display against Italy in their final Rugby World Cup warm-up.
The front-rower had been named on the bench for the fixture in Newcastle, but played a major role in the match after replacing Harlequins loosehead Joe Marler on the half-hour mark, and scored his first international try in the final quarter of the game.
“[This was] a squad performance, and you’ll see that we’ve had people in our squad all through this campaign,” Genge said, referring to back-to-back fixtures against Wales as well as a demolition of Ireland at Twickenham two weeks ago.
“Our squad [of 31] was announced a few weeks ago, and we’ve had 35 boys in camp, and some of those aren’t coming away [to Japan], but look how good they’ve been.
“Look how they performed tonight, and it just shows that everyone is pulling in the same direction, and we get performances like that off the back of it.
“We’re constantly building, and we just want to get better.”
Sale Sharks back-rower Mark Wilson – on loan from Championship side Newcastle Falcons – was also quick to praise Genge as he left the field in his adopted homeland.
“It’s great to have players like him [in the squad],” he explained. “When you’re starting to flag and you see guys like Gengey and [Kyle Sinckler] come on, it gives you a real boost in how enthusiastic they are, and it rubs off on the rest of the team – it’s great.”
England fly to Japan this Sunday, with their opening Pool C match against Tonga in store on Sunday, September 22, though not before Genge was able to offer his shirt to a young fan at St James’ Park.
He added: “There’s a little boy in the crowd who contacted me online, and he’s got dyspraxia and struggles at school.
“I’ve been chatting to him for a few months now, I saw him before the game – small world – and so I just gave him my top after.
“Hopefully I get a few more tops in my time, but it’s certainly right to give it to him.”