George Ford has revealed the fundamental difference between the England squad heading to the World Cup in Japan under Eddie Jones and the disastrous 2015 campaign that saw the host country fail to make the knockout stages.
That debacle saw the departure of the coaching team headed by Stuart Lancaster and allowed Jones to take over and stamp his own authority on the players as he battled to identify the 31 players who will attempt to replicate the trophy-winning triumph of the 2003 England squad.
Ford believes that four years ago the players were too focussed on making the squad rather than winning the tournament and that has changed under Jones.
Lancaster’s campaign was hampered by the controversy surrounding his decision to include rugby league star Sam Burgess in the final squad at the expense of Northampton’s Luther Burrell. It was a move that proved to be a constant thorn in the management’s side during the tournament where they lost key pool games to Australia and Wales.
Ready to lead England for the second successive game against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday, Ford said: “The main thing is that I felt in 2015 the most important thing was getting into the squad to play in the World Cup rather than putting all your focus and energy into being a squad that can go out and win it.
How does it feel to win your first England cap?
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) August 16, 2019
“In 2015 it was more of an individual thing with wanting to be part of the World Cup whereas now it is a case of we know where we are as a squad, so let’s put all our energy and focus into making sure we are as tight as possible to go out and win the thing.
“It is a bit of a different mindset because you put your energies into being part of a successful England team rather than being part of an England team going to a World Cup.
“There are quite a few of the lads who were involved in 2015 who would agree and Eddie has been consistent in saying that everyone has a role to play within the squad and the value he adds to the squad translates into the performance at the weekend. That is what I am on about because we now know where we are as a squad.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 16, 2019
With England opting to take just two scrum-halves to the World Cup, Ford is the emergency option and could even get time in the role – depending on the state of the game – in Cardiff.
He is not fazed by the challenge and believes England forwards would take more notice of his demands if he was issuing them much closer to the action.
Ford at No9 would be just one of the personal challenges Jones wants to set his players and the Leicester outside half understands the reasoning.
He added: “Even when I have trained at No9 in sessions he [Jones] has not come up to me beforehand and said I would be doing a bit of nine. You just have to adapt and that is a good place to be as a player – being able to adapt.
“If you can do a really a good job of it then it can only make you a better player. Also, it allows you an appreciation of what a nine’s job is with me being a 10 and what I expect and want off a scrum-half and then you are in that position. Owen (Farrell) might be demanding, so I had better give him the ball!”
WATCH: George Ford speaking at the England team announcement media conference
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