On the surface, Jamie George has conveyed utter professionalism and an unwavering focus on his new job as England captain. Nothing has hinted at the personal anguish which he was grappling with.

This Six Nations has been the proudest phase of his decorated career as a stalwart of the national team and a respected Test Lion. But he has been going about his high-profile work knowing that his beloved mother, Jane, who provided such constant parental support over the years, was rapidly losing her battle with cancer.

Back and forth he went, from team base to family home, spending time with her until she passed away last week aged 68. On Thursday, George spoke with emotion and raw honesty about the ordeal. ‘It’s been really tough,’ he said. ‘I found out about her cancer diagnosis on the same day I found out I was going to be England captain, so that was a pretty mixed day.

‘She was the biggest rugby fan on earth. She loved this team, loved watching me play. She never missed a game. The text I’ve got from her before my first game (as captain) is something I’ll treasure forever. She said it was the proudest day of her life. Given what she was going through to still be able to put a smile on her face is huge.’

As he prepares to lead England against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday, George was asked about the decision to take on the captaincy at such a difficult time — and about playing on despite what was happening. He said it was what his mother wanted. ‘Wherever she is now, she will be looking down telling everyone that is there her son is the England captain,’ he said. ‘I know for a fact that meant a huge amount to her.

Jamie George said being named England captain was the proudest day of his mum's life

Jamie George said being named England captain was the proudest day of his mum’s life

George's beloved mother Jane passed away last week aged 68 following a battle with cancer

George’s beloved mother Jane passed away last week aged 68 following a battle with cancer

‘It’s amazing. In any break I would get from camp, I would be going to visit her and the first question she would ask me is, “How is Marcus Smith getting on?”! She sort of lost her voice towards the end so conversations were difficult, but the few conversations we would have were largely around the team. That probably summed her up.

‘When I first became captain, I spoke a lot about showing how much it means to play for England and what an amazing impact you can have on people’s lives. I have seen it first-hand. My mum was on her deathbed talking about the England rugby team and how proud she was of me being able to do what I do. That’s incredible. She will be with me in some capacity on Saturday and that means a huge amount to me.’

It was a natural time to reflect on shared memories. George cast his mind back and said: ‘She was always there. She never missed it. We had quite a few heated debates! She was quite vocal when I first came into playing rugby— especially professional rugby.

‘It must be a difficult transition; you go from watching your son play for Haileybury School in front of 12 people to the next year I was playing at Vicarage Road for Saracens in front of 20,000 people. Her volume level didn’t change, despite sitting in a family box with everyone else’s families around!

‘She was a very proud woman, she was absolutely incredible with everything she did for me and my brothers. It is hard to put into words. Rugby was a massive part of her life — I think it has kept our family together in certain ways and it goes to show what an incredible sport this is.

‘Until the end, she was a die-hard Saracens and England rugby fan. It is amazing to have been able to have given her such an incredible life, travelling around the world following my games. Her and my dad would travel everywhere and I know she found a lot of joy following this team.’

George himself has had no doubt about the wisdom of taking part on Saturday and his father, Ian, will relish the outlet of a championship weekend in Edinburgh.

‘He is OK, said Jamie. ‘He probably doesn’t know how to feel, everyone grieves in different ways. My brother is over from Thailand, he was able to be here for my mum’s passing which meant a huge amount to her.

The England and Lions star said his mum had joy following his matches around the world

The England and Lions star said his mum had joy following his matches around the world

George has no doubt about the wisdom of taking part in the Calcutta Cup clash with Scotland

George has no doubt about the wisdom of taking part in the Calcutta Cup clash with Scotland

‘He is doing OK, he is looking forward to his weekend in Edinburgh. Any opportunity to take your mind off things is a huge one so he is coming up with his brother and my cousin who are quite loose, to be honest. I am worried about what their weekend will entail!’

Now the priority for the remarkably resilient England captain is to channel the personal hurt of the last week and beyond, to deliver a fitting tribute to his mother on the field. That will be his quest, even more so than ever before.

‘That has always been my motivation; making friends and family proud,’ he said. ‘It will probably be multiplied this weekend, but when you get into the arena, when you step on to the field, it’s actually quite a nice feeling to be able to forget everything that has happened previously.

‘Of course, I want to win for her and I want to win in her memory, but I’m fully aware that Scotland aren’t going to allow us to do that. It would be an amazing story, it would be an amazing situation for my family, but regardless of the result, I’m going out there to make her proud and make my family in the stands proud too.’

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