- Paul Gustard compares Sarries contingent to Class of 92
- England play Argentina in the third Test of their Old Mutual Wealth Series on Saturday
England defence coach Paul Gustard has compared a Saracens group that includes George Kruis, Owen Farrell and Jamie George, to Manchester United’s Class of 92.
Kruis returned to Eddie Jones’ squad this week after missing England’s opening Old Mutual Wealth Series Tests with an ankle injury, and Gustard says the 26-year-old’s desire to improve and succeed can be attributed to competition with his peers while at the London club.
“Saracens had their own Class of 92 with the likes of Jamie George, Owen Farrell, Alex Goode, Will Fraser and Jackson Wray,” said Gustard, who previously coached at Saracens.
“And when one started achieving, they all wanted to out-compete and out-perform each other.”
The Class of 92 was a group of Manchester United academy players including: David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers - Gary and Phil - who went on to help the club gain domestic and European cup glory.
Band of brothers
A noticeable Sarries contingent has also been ever-present in Jones’ England squad, with Kruis, George, Farrell, the Vunipola brothers and Maro Itoje all part of the series whitewash of Australia last June.
The current squad boasts strength-in-depth across most positions, but there is a particular spoil of talent in the second-row department. En route to earning 18 international caps, Kruis has won domestic and European titles with Sarries, and according to Gustard, is only improving. "I think you have got to breed a culture where people want to improve and constantly push each other..."
“He’s got the bit between his teeth, wants to be the best he can be, and is aware of what he needs to do to get better,” Gustard added. “He takes ownership of himself. As a modern day professional athlete, he is world class.”
The 6ft 6in lock echoes Gustard’s sentiments surrounding the Class of 92 analogy, and compares it to the relationship shared between siblings.
“When you have five or six players come through together it is kind of like that competition between brothers, and it always pushes you a little bit further,” said Kruis.
“We have a good respect for each other, which means you have to turn up each week, have to prepare well and ultimately have to play well for each other.”
Kruis admits there is a ‘band of brothers’ culture developing within the England camp both on and off the field, and says he can see the similarities between club and country.
“I think you have got to breed a culture where people want to improve and constantly push each other and I think that is what we have been doing.”