Ford ‘hugely ex­cited’ about Eng­land at­tack­ing threat

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby World Cup - RUGBY NEWS COR­RE­SPON­DENT in Tokyo By Gavin Mairs

Ge­orge Ford in­sists Eng­land can im­pose their game plan and match the at­tack­ing threats of New Zealand in to­mor­row’s World Cup semi-fi­nal in Yoko­hama.

Ford has been handed the re­spon­si­bil­ity of run­ning the side’s at­tack­ing game af­ter Ed­die Jones re­called the Leicester Tigers’ fly­half, with Owen Far­rell re­turn­ing to in­side cen­tre.

Jones be­lieves the dual-play­maker com­bi­na­tion will al­low Eng­land to dom­i­nate ter­ri­tory, with heavy rain ex­pected, and that field­ing two dis­trib­u­tors will al­low greater at­tack­ing op­tions. Ford ac­knowl­edges that New Zealand, with Richie Mo’unga start­ing at 10 and Beau­den Bar­rett at full-back, will pose se­ri­ous questions of the de­fence. But he be­lieves Eng­land can en­force their own game on their op­po­nents.

“We’re com­ing up against a team who have got threats all over the field,” said Ford. “With Richie at 10 and Beau­den at full-back, they’ve got some bril­liant guys who can get the ball into space and they’re very dan­ger­ous, par­tic­u­larly off un­struc­tured ball. We’ll have to be on our toes and alive in ev­ery mo­ment.

“But we’re also hugely ex­cited about what we can put out there. We’ve got some threats across the park. Hope­fully, we can get the ball into space so that they can show what they can do as well.

“We un­der­stand the team we’re up against but we also want to en­force what we want to do on them.”

In the week that Jones at­tempted to ramp up the pres­sure on the All Blacks, chas­ing a third suc­ces­sive World Cup, op­po­site num­ber Steve Hansen re­turned fire, claim­ing “that same pres­sure is run­ning down the same street that he [Jones] is on”.

Ford, how­ever, in­sisted Eng­land had the men­tal for­ti­tude to cope.

“It’s a pretty pres­surised game for both sides,” Ford said. “But we wouldn’t want to be any­where else.

‘‘Where else would we rather be than play­ing in the semi-fi­nal of a World Cup against New Zealand? If we can’t get ex­cited about that, if we can’t em­brace that and have the mind­set to re­ally at­tack that, then we shouldn’t be in the po­si­tion we’re in.

“It will be a game that will prob­a­bly be de­cided on fine mar­gins, but it’s one we’re ex­cited about. It’s a pres­surised sit­u­a­tion, it’s a pres­surised game, but we en­joy the pres­sure, we want to em­brace it and I think we will do.

“We mas­sively be­lieve we can go and do that. We’re con­fi­dent and the rea­son is we put pres­sure on our­selves in the week to be ready for it. Con­sis­tently, day af­ter day, we want to pre­pare as well as we can so we can get to the game and put it out there with a clear mind and re­ally go at them.’’

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