Ellis Genge has become a front-runner for England captaincy

‘Rough Diamond’ Ellis Genge has become front-runner to captain England if Owen Farrell and Courtney Lawes are ruled out… as forwards coach Richard Cockerill claims he has ‘matured’ into ‘the best loosehead in the world’

  • Ellis Genge has become a front-runner to captain England as a result of injuries
  • Usual leaders Courtney Lawes and Owen Farrell are both currently injury doubts
  • Genge led Leicester to Premiership glory last season before a move to Bristol 
  • England forwards coach Richard Cockerill praised how the prop has ‘matured’
  • He believes the 27-year-old is ‘one of’ if not the ‘best loosehead in the world’ 
  • Ben Youngs also lauded Genge’s ‘great feel’ and interaction with his team-mates 

England are still hoping that Courtney Lawes or Owen Farrell will be fit to face Argentina on Sunday, November 6, but if both are ruled out, one-time ‘rough diamond’ Ellis Genge has become a front-runner for the captaincy.

As they stepped up training in Jersey on Wednesday, the man who led Leicester to Premiership glory last season was acclaimed as one of the world’s finest props, and an increasingly mature talisman.

Genge has not yet led his country, but England forwards coach Richard Cockerill, the director of rugby who took the wild West Country talent to Leicester years ago, said: ‘He has matured a lot since I signed him and has turned into one of the best, if not the best loosehead in the world.

Ellis Genge is a front-runner to captain England with Owen Farrell and Courtney Lawes doubts

‘He is a fantastic player who leads by example, but he is having more influence off the field as well. He’s earned the respect of players and management and has a key role in the leadership group.

‘He’s captained his club and done it well, so we know he has leadership qualifications.’

The loosehead prop has 39 England caps

Asked if Genge’s growth has surprised him, Cockerill added: ‘Ellis has got a handle on social awareness and knows how he needs to behave. As he has matured, he makes better choices. He’s a quality player, a good man and a guy you can trust. When things get tough, he steps up. I’m not surprised, just pleased he’s matured so well.’

Ben Youngs, who saw first-hand how Genge inspired the Tigers last season, echoed Cockerill’s sentiments: ‘When Ellis first arrived at Leicester, he was a rough diamond. He had all this raw power and talent which needed shaping. He’d do these crazy rhino runs, but to see what he is now — he’s totally different.

‘In terms of leadership, he speaks very well and is calm. He’s got a great feel with people in terms of how he talks and interacts.

He captained Leicester to victory in the Premiership last season before joining Bristol Bears

‘Captaincy was a natural fit for him, but he made it his own and grew week by week into that role.’

Luke Cowan-Dickie remains in contention to face Argentina — as the knee injury the Exeter hooker suffered last weekend is not as bad as first thought. It was feared that he would miss this week’s camp, but Cockerill said: ‘Luke took part in some units this morning and it’s settling down. There’s every chance that he’ll train fully next week.’

Elsewhere, former England and Wasps back-row Brad Shields has signed for French club Perpignan until the end of this season.

Former Tigers team-mate Ben Youngs (right) praised Genge’s communication skills as captain

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