‘We’ve given ourselves an opportunity – that is literally all it is’ – George Ford

first_imgnews Read more Among the first people Steve Hansen spoke to after New Zealand’s defeat by England on Saturday was Graham Henry, his predecessor as head coach and fellow World Cup winner having been in charge when the All Blacks finally lifted the trophy again in 2011. More pertinently, however, he was in charge in 2007 – the last time before Saturday that New Zealand lost a World Cup match, against France in the quarter-finals. Share on WhatsApp England rugby union team Share on LinkedIn Pinterest Pinterest He deserves even more credit because four years ago he was also relegated to the bench for England’s crunch pool-stage defeat by Wales. “We discussed [2015] in our pre-season,” Ford said. “We discussed it at length. We got all that stuff out from 2015 and since then, we’ve moved forward, we’ve cracked on, we haven’t looked back or spoken about it once. It was important that we got it out of our system, but as soon as it was done and dusted, we moved on.” We’ve beaten the god of rugby but we still must improve, says Eddie Jones Read more Their chat centred on how to deal with a defeat when coaching a country that expects nothing short of success. But it was also telling that George Ford was one of their main topics of conversation. “I talked to Ted [Henry] and had a chat about 2007,” Hansen said. “We mentioned the fact that it’s no different. It was a gutting feeling. Then Ted and I spoke about how well George Ford had played. I thought George Ford played particularly well and put us into positions where we had to really work to try to get out of deep in our own territory and try to force things.”Hansen also waxed lyrical about Maro Itoje but the fact he singled out Ford is significant, given how he has flitted in and out of England’s team of late. For Ford must take immense credit for how he handled being dropped to the bench against Australia before his return to face the All Blacks. In public both he and Jones have insisted that he was not dropped, just given a different role, but Ford did not grow up dreaming of wearing No 22 for England at a World Cup. Facebook Share on Twitter Twitter Share on Messenger Reuse this content Twitter center_img Ford did not miss a beat after the match, either. Jones has suggested he would have no issue dropping the fly-half again, no doubt a comment designed to keep his players on their toes because the last thing he wants England to do is pat themselves on the back. France memorably got carried away after beating the All Blacks in the 1999 semi-final and Ford was adamant England would not fall into the same trap.“The feeling now is that we’ve given ourselves an opportunity – that is literally all it is,” he said. “We came into the game with huge belief, we came in thinking we could win. We had to be somewhere pretty good to near our best to do so. We’ve got one opportunity now to finish it off. We want to enjoy the win, but we understand what is ahead of us and it is an opportunity for us.” Support The Guardian Like George Ford, Maro Itoje was praised by the All Blacks coach, Steve Hansen, for his display in the 19-7 semi-final win. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian … we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many new organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism, to maintain our openness and to protect our precious independence. Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Share via Email Facebook Rugby World Cup Rugby World Cup 2019 Share on Facebook Topics Rugby union England’s George Ford makes a smart offload before as he is tackled by two All Blacks. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images Share on Pinterest Clearly Ford feels more valued in Jones’s regime, even if he has spent plenty of time on the bench. Indeed, he has been in all but one of Jones’s 49 matchday squads and there is significance to the Test he missed. It was against South Africa in Cape Town in 2018 – the only time Jones has started Danny Cipriani. It is a testament to Ford’s response to that and his ability to shut out all the hype that followed when Cipriani’s excellent kick set up Jonny May for the decisive try. And Ford’s renewed form since certainly chimes with Jones pinpointing that tour as a pivotal moment for his team.“If you look at the evolution of this team, it started on the South Africa tour,” said Jones. “We had a fairly solid team for the first two years, and we knew we had to make changes to regenerate and reinvigorate. It started in South Africa.”Against New Zealand, Ford did not miss a beat. His kicking from hand was excellent and at goal equally impressive after taking over from Farrell, whose injury meant he could not carry out the role. “I spoke to Owen straight away,” said Ford. “He said he had a dead leg and was fine to carry on. We both practise together in the week as much as possible in case anything like that happens.” England stride past All Blacks towards rugby’s greatest prize Since you’re here…last_img

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