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Ex-England international: 'Would be a massive call to drop Ford'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Ex-England international James Simpson-Daniel believes Steve Borthwick can’t drop George Ford at the Rugby World Cup following his match-winning effort last weekend versus Argentina.


With skipper Owen Farrell suspended, Ford rose to the occasion by scoring all of his team’s points in their 27-10 win and it has ignited a debate over what will happen with the No10 shirt when Farrell’s ban expires.

Having sat out the final two Summer Nations Series warm-ups versus Ireland and Fiji and then missed the tournament opener against the Pumas, the final fixture in Farrell’s four-game suspension is this Sunday’s meeting with Japan in Nice.

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Ford will likely start that match (England will confirm their XV on Friday), and Farrell will probably get a run in the following weekend’s clash with Chile in Lille on September 23.

However, who should be the No10 for the final pool match against Samoa on October 7 after the two-week break and then the following weekend’s quarter-finals is an intriguing situation.

“That is the real hard one now for Borthwick,” reckoned Simpson-Daniel. “Do you force Farrell in at inside-centre? There is no doubt he will come back in the side when he is available. Borthwick could say, ‘Thanks, George Ford. You were outstanding but Owen Farrell is my captain and my starting fly-half’. Or you have them play together.

“It would be a massive call to drop Ford. Borthwick has always said he would pick players on form – something he always wanted when he was a player. And on the back of the way he is playing, you couldn’t drop Ford. It will be fascinating to see.


“The one player I feel sorry for in all of this is Marcus Smith. He is not going to start at fly-half now. He won’t be seeing anything of the 10 shirt. I don’t agree with this talk of him now being the reserve full-back who will come on to be a game-changer.

Speaking to OLBG, Simpson-Daniel labelled last weekend’s Ford display against Argentina and the best performance by an England No10 since Jonny Wilkinsons was in his pomp during the early noughties. “That was an absolute masterclass by George Ford in terms of game mismanagement.

“That was the best performance by an England fly-half since Johnny Wilkinson in his pomp. What he did was adapt, he has such a good brain. Everyone says he basically runs training like Johnny Sexton does for Ireland.

“He immediately adapted his performance to the conditions and the situation England found themselves in so early in the game with Tom Curry red-carded. He changed everything, took the game by the scruff of the neck and literally bossed it. Keeping the scoreboard ticking over, his game management was outstanding. That was a world-class masterpiece that he showed.


“England were getting a lot of flak in the build-up to the tournament and understandably that was a day to put a lot of things right. England will now be backing themselves to go a long way in this tournament. The confidence this will have given them is enormous.

“England have their ruthlessness back and they won’t fear Wales or Australia in the quarter-finals. Beating Argentina was hugely impressive and will have made people sit up and take notice. We were a totally different side to the one that we saw in the build-up to the World Cup.

“Their discipline was better – the incident with Curry notwithstanding – and at no point in the game did it look like we were going to lose. We have talked about England feeding off the Saracens frenzy. The way they celebrate small things gives them energy.

“That was there against Argentina. It looked as though they’d really honed in on what they were up to and what they needed to do. Did it take the red card for that to happen? I hope not. I would have thought that would be there anyway.

“I’m not getting carried away. I am not saying this side is going to win the World Cup. But you can’t get away from the fact that we are on the ’right side of the draw’. It is always great when something goes to plan.

“Their minds seemed really on the way, they all seemed to do their jobs well individually and collectively and if we take one game at a time, come the knockout stages I don’t think we would be fearing Wales or Australia in the quarter-finals if that is how it pans out.

“It was a statement performance and at no time did the Pumas look to be able to dominate in any area play – and that was with a one-man advantage for 77 minutes. They will be bitterly disappointed. The bookies had them to win. England had complete control and dominance.”



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