Jamie George approaches his duel with England rival Dylan Hartley viewing the second British and Irish Lions Test against New Zealand as the standard of performance required to alter Eddie Jones’ thinking.

George started all three matches against the All Blacks during the summer yet every one of his 17 Red Rose caps have been won as a replacement.

It is Hartley who will lead England into next month’s autumn series against Argentina, Australia and Samoa with George taking up his customary role of offering support from the bench, despite his elevated status with the Lions.

A hat-trick of tries against Wasps underlined George’s potency and when Saracens begin their Champions Cup title defence at Northampton on Sunday, he will line-up against Hartley intent on demonstrating to Jones that he deserves to be first choice hooker.

“The second Lions Test in particular was one I was proud of. That’s where I set the standard. The bar is set there. All my performances are based off that,” George said.

“I was most pleased about my physicality and intensity in that game. I now realise where I need to be. That’s the benchmark. I want to keep striving to get beyond that.

“I’m fully aware where I need to be emotionally and physically on Sunday in order to be at my best.

“You don’t pick and choose when you perform. The way I approach it shouldn’t be any different whether it’s a Lions Test or an A League game. I’ve learned that my preparation is so important in terms of my success.

“The week building up to that second Test was the best week that I had. I’ve put a big focus on this season doing a lot of extras.”

Hartley’s captaincy makes him indispensable to England, although the Northampton skipper has produced a strong start to the season and is highly unlikely to relinquish his Test spot this autumn.

“The messages from the England coaches are that I have to improve in certain areas. The consistency of my performances needs to remain high,” George said.

“I can’t have periods of games where I’m in and out. I have to make sure my involvements in games are really high and that I keep playing with intensity.

“I’ve never wanted to be second choice, but it’s the way that it has fallen. But I’ve learned the value of patience.”

A speaker at one of Saracens’ recent team meetings was a magician named ‘Pete The Heat’ and George insists parallels can be drawn between rugby and the performance of tricks on stage.

“It was funny and very interesting – he wasn’t just performing magic tricks, he was saying what his mindset is with the trick,” George said.

“We found a common ground that heightened our awareness about what we need to do on a rugby field. He said the trick happens before the big reveal.

“What we took from that is working off the ball. So people see the tries, but it’s about what we do before that…..so kick chase and working hard to get off the floor.”