Leicester Tigers prop Ellis Genge admits he feels happier in the England squad now than he’s ever been before and insists glory in Japan is the only thing on his mind.
The Bristol-born 24-year-old has nine English caps to his name since making his senior international debut against Wales in Twickenham more than three years ago.
He made an appearance in all but one of England’s Guinness Six Nations games earlier this year and has now been selected by Eddie Jones for his first World CUp in Japan.
And while he has proved he deserves to make the final 31-man squad for Japan, Genge revealed he is much more comfortable in his surroundings.
“My hopes and aspirations for the team this summer is obviously to win, the same as every team,” he said while getting the chance to fly to Tokyo in British Airways’ Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight simulator.
“I think the main thing is to be our best and prepare that way.
“The environment is always changing but since I’ve been in the mix, three to three and half years ago I just like how accepting they are now of everyone.
“It doesn’t matter where you are from or what you were doing before coming into camp, it’s just about whether you’re a decent bloke and enjoy working hard.
“Friendships get stronger and you win some, you lose some, but it’s probably been the best year that we’ve had, and I’ve really enjoyed this time off the field as teammates.”
Jones is expected to name his final squad for Japan in August, shortly after the first of England’s Quilter Internationals, which will see them play Wales both home and away.
There will also be meetings with Guinness Six Nations rivals Ireland and Italy – and Genge believes the games present a perfect opportunity for players to put their hand up for selection.
“Time will tell how important England’s strength in depth will be, but it will be important,” he said. “There are good players in every position so there are people always fighting for positions.
“What we learnt from the Guinness Six Nations is that it’s not always easy out there on the pitch, on the back of that we’ve been developing our relationships a lot off the pitch.
“The next few warm-up games will be important for the squad because you can see the different dynamics and see how different people play with each other.
“They are Test matches, they’re called warm up games, but they are always going to be tough so it’s a good opportunity I guess to see how those different dynamics work.”
Genge is also excited about the possibility of returning to Japan, having played schoolboy rugby there when he was younger, although he is expecting a much tougher challenge.
“I have played in Japan before and it’s really hot and humid conditions,” said Genge, who took part in the session alongside Ruaridh McConnochie and Tom Dunn in an appearance for British Airways on behalf of England Rugby.
“I played at a different time of year, I think June or July, which is not as hot as it will be when we get there.
“That was schoolboy rugby and it’s obviously a different breed now, so we’ll see how we get on. Our preparation over the next few weeks will replicate what we’re going to face in Japan.
“It’s important for the game to venture out into new territories.
“Japan did well in the last tournament when Eddie was coaching them, and they’ve actually had a few results of the years as well, so it will be great to grow the game out there.”
Given he has already been to Japan before Genge is well prepared for the journey that awaits.
He added: “I own 14 pairs of tracksuits and these make up my travel outfit, so I can to sleep for half the flight and then finish a few TV series along the way too.
“My most memorable flight was coming back from Australia in 2016, we won the series 3-0.”
British Airways is the Official Airline Partner to England Rugby and Principal Partner to Twickenham Stadium. The airline has taken England Rugby teams and staff all over the world. In our centenary year, British Airways is providing the England Rugby team with logistical and operational support in the lead up to, and during their trip to Japan this year. For more information go to www.ba.com/rugby.