England “didn’t throw a punch” in their defeat against 14-man Australia, hooker Jamie George says.
The Wallabies lost three players to injury and lock Darcy Swain to a red card before the break, putting England in prime position in the series opener.
But the tourists let slip a five-point lead, and only got back to 30-28 – a result that belied Australia’s second-half dominance – with two late tries.
“We’re our own worst enemies at times,” George said.
The 31-year-old continued on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Rugby Union Weekly: “We probably gave them that game.
“We had a great opportunity to win it. We didn’t throw a punch, which is just so disappointing.”
Red card ‘evened up’ match – Jones
The loss was England’s fourth in a row – including a non-cap fixture against the Barbarians – following a disappointing Six Nations.
It may reignite calls for England to bring in a new head coach, although the Rugby Football Union showed public support for Eddie Jones after the Six Nations.
Jones said of Saturday’s loss: “I’m disappointed that we’ve lost. The results aren’t good enough. I accept that and that’s my responsibility. We’ll work hard to turn it around.”
Jones added that Swain’s red card may have “evened up” the match, saying referees generally “help the team with the red card”.
“It’s social reciprocity, it happens, that’s normal and we’ve got to be good enough to handle it,” Jones continued.
“That happens in every game of rugby I’ve seen. Because they’re nice blokes, referees. I’m not criticising the referees, I’m not using it as an excuse, that’s the reality of rugby.”
‘Actions rather than just words’ needed
George said England would need “to have an open and honest” conversation before the second Test in Brisbane on 9 July to work out why they can identify issues in their game but not action solutions.
Asked what England were looking to do when they had a five-point lead, George said: “There were a few things we were going after – one of them was discipline.
“Obviously that message didn’t go through because that was poor from us in the last 20 minutes.”
George added that “the messaging going in” was “another thing we’ve spoken about in the Six Nations”.
“We’re trying to deliver messages and we’ve still got people giving silly penalties away,” he continued.
“That is an area we need to cover off and make sure there are actions rather than it being just words.”
‘Farrell and Smith underwhelming’ – Hunt
England won just two games in the 2022 Six Nations and their lack of a cohesive attack was one of the tournament talking points.
Owen Farrell returned from injury to start at inside centre against Australia, partnering talented 23-year-old fly-half Marcus Smith, but the pair struggled to make anything happen for their side.
England head coach Eddie Jones has previously emphasised that he does not expect perfection for his team now as he is prioritising the 2023 World Cup.
But England women’s scrum-half Natasha Hunt questioned whether partnerships like Farrell and Smith’s should be better established with 14 months left before the tournament begins.
“The World Cup is not that far away now,” she said.
“You need to be starting to hone in on your combinations. There has been a lot of talk about Farrell and Smith and I was a bit underwhelmed by that combination.
“I don’t know how we’re trying to attack.”