England will scrummage against Georgia this week with Dylan Hartley outlining the consequences if they fail to view the sessions as anything other than the equivalent of a Test match.
The Georgians will spend the Tuesday and Wednesday of the first fallow week of the Six Nations providing Eddie Jones’ pack with an examination of their set-piece expertise.
A similar event was staged against Wales in Bristol before the 2017 autumn series and it was deemed a success, leading to Jones setting up a similar scenario against one of the game’s most accomplished scrummaging nations.
“Every scrum has to be intense otherwise you get folded up like a travel map stuffed in your back pocket,” captain and hooker Hartley said.
“I’m looking forward to it. It will be a really useful tool and I’m sure they will take something from it as well.
“We’re always looking to improve our scrum. It has been going well for us. They are good players who play Top 14, good operators.
“You think that by mixing it up and training against someone different we will find something out about ourselves and we will learn.
“If I scrum against Jamie George, Alec Hepburn and Harry Williams they know what we are trying to do, we know what they are trying to do and we end up negating each other.”
Head coach Jones had floated the idea of England travelling to Tbilisi to train against Georgia before it was decided they would visit London, with the Rugby Football Union picking up the cost of accommodation.
“We’ll do scrums and lineouts against them. We want to have the best scrum in the world and they’re the biggest, ugliest, strongest scrum pack in the world,” Jones said.
“Why wouldn’t we want to scrummage against them? It’s fantastic. We’re good friends with their two coaches, Milton Haig and Richard Graham — a Kiwi and an Aussie. They were keen on the idea and it suits us perfectly.
“We want to win the Six Nations but we’re also using this as a trial for the World Cup, so it’s a great opportunity for us to get some really quality scrum practice in.
“It will be practice, but we will do the same number of scrums that we would have in a game.”
England have registered victories over Italy and Wales to place them second in the Six Nations table, but they were forced to negotiate a brutally competitive encounter on Saturday to remain in Grand Slam contention.
Jonny May ran in two tries but every bit as important was the try-saving tackle executed by Sam Underhill on Scott Williams at a point when Warren Gatland’s men trailed just 12-6, which became the final score.
“I remember sheer panic and then I remember just pegging it to the corner because I’ve slipped over and they had an overlap, so glad I made it in time,” Underhill said.
“The first Six Nations home game for me was a very proud moment. I was glad I got some decent time out there and very much enjoyed it.”