Revealed: Owen Farrell and George Ford’s role as England’s quarterback coaches
Midfield pair will call all the plays and hold the key to unlocking Argentina’s defence
called depending on field position on the pitch, so what you do off a left-hand side line-out on their 22 or what you do off a right-hand side scrum deep in your own half. It acts like a road map of the game.
But like any map, sometimes you have to plot a different course to the one you had planned. Just as quarterbacks in the NFL will “call an audible” to change the play at the last minute after seeing something different, so Owen and George will be scanning the defence. The picture often changes to what you had planned, so the space is in a different place to where they thought.
They will then put in a quick call to the team to attack that space. Under the massive pressure of a World Cup, they are the guys who can see the picture is changing and are able to make a new call to exploit that space.
That is something George and Owen do incredibly well. They are not just stuck in the mindset of “this is the play we have practised, this is what we have to do”. If the picture changes, they can adapt and go with the flow.
The beauty of the England squad is that there are so many options to choose from. Jonathan Joseph has had a huge impact in his two appearances, while Henry Slade was one of England’s best players in the Six Nations. He reads the game so well in attack and defence, and has unbelievable hands. For a guy who is relatively slight, he is incredibly strong. He is not afraid of putting his head where it hurts, or running a hard line.
And then there is Manu Tuilagi. Rugby is a contact sport and you cannot do anything without winning the gain-line battle. You can have all the best hands in the back line, but you need someone who is going to get you some quick ball and put you on the front foot. There is no better back in the world at doing that than Manu.
You use him a couple of times to get your go-forward. Then the next time the defence tightens up a bit, he runs a hard line again and you put the ball behind him and the space opens up for someone else. He is that good and that respected that sides have to double-team him. That is what Owen and George will do – use him as a battering ram, but also as the best decoy runner in the world.