Ford ‘hugely excited’ about England attacking threat
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.’’