Re­vealed: The se­cret dossier that helped Ford re­claim Eng­land’s No 10 spot

No10 has re­dis­cov­ered his mojo in Ja­pan with a lit­tle help from his fa­ther. By Gavin Mairs

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Total Rugby -

It was after a two-hour flight from King Shaka In­ter­na­tional air­port to Cape Town in June last year that Ge­orge Ford faced one of the defin­ing mo­ments of his ca­reer. In the pre­vi­ous fort­night, Ford had started at fly-half in each of the first two of Eng­land’s Test matches against South Africa in Jo­han­nes­burg and Pre­to­ria.

On each oc­ca­sion Eng­land had raced into a com­mand­ing lead only to crash to suc­ces­sive de­feats that would cost them the se­ries and heap more crit­i­cism on head coach Ed­die Jones.

That 23-12 loss in Pre­to­ria was Eng­land’s fifth suc­ces­sive Test de­feat and the head coach, un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure from within the Rugby Foot­ball Union and the Premier­ship clubs, acted de­ci­sively.

It no longer mat­tered that Ford had started at fly-half in 28 out of the pre­vi­ous 30 Tests un­der Jones and his mid­field part­ner­ship with Owen Far­rell had been the ful­crum of the side that had won the Grand Slam in 2016 and the Six Na­tions the fol­low­ing year.

In­stead, just over a year out from the World Cup, Ford was dropped and found him­self out in the cold, with Jones opt­ing to start Danny Cipri­ani at fly-half, with Owen Far­rell stay­ing at 12. Cipri­ani’s kick to Jonny May sealed a 25-10 win over the Spring­boks in Cape Town, eas­ing the pres­sure on Jones but fur­ther shroud­ing Ford’s Eng­land fu­ture in doubt.

Ford, how­ever, had al­ready made a vow to him­self that the dis­ap­point­ment would not over­whelm him.

It started with a phone call to his fa­ther Mike, the for­mer Eng­land de­fence coach, now Le­ices­ter’s at­tack coach, just after the squad had ar­rived in Cape Town. Ford Snr re­called the con­ver­sa­tion. “Ge­orge was so dis­ap­pointed,” he said. “In the two pre­vi­ous games Eng­land had built up two re­ally good leads but for what­ever rea­son lost the games and then Ed­die had dropped him. “As a coach you look at play­ers who have been dropped and ob­vi­ously the way they train, the body lan­guage and the way they try to help the team.

“What you don’t want as a coach is the player who thinks about him­self and sulks a lit­tle bit and com­plains that it is not their fault. They go through that griev­ing pe­riod of be­ing dropped and they get their heads around it and re­alise the only way they can get back in the side is to go out and train well and show the at­ti­tude that is for the best of the team. “Sulk­ing and feel­ing sorry for him­self was com­pletely the op­po­site way to do that. So we ba­si­cally talked about not griev­ing. For what­ever rea­son, it is done. And the ques­tion was then, ‘How can he get back in the team as quickly as pos­si­ble?’” That process be­gan with an im­me­di­ate re­ac­tion by Ford. In­stead of sulk­ing, he of­fered to run the wa­ter and goal-kick­ing tee dur­ing the match for Far­rell de­spite the driv­ing rain at the New­lands Sta­dium.

Dif­fer­ent worlds: Ge­orge Ford was dropped after Eng­land’s de­feat to South Africa in Pre­to­ria (be­low), but is a player trans­formed now (right) as he cel­e­brates his try against Ar­gentina

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