England take on Japan on Sunday in what will be an important step in their World Cup journey. They will travel to Nice with the aim of building upon their sublime victory over Argentina in the opener.
The mood within England fans has lifted dramatically after their recent performance, with many spectators comparing it to the England of old – bruising and uncompromising. One such player that’s acquired much of the comparisons is England fly-half George Ford, after kicking three drop goals and six penalties in the match to make it George Ford 27 – 10 Argentina.
The individual effort created by the rest of the team is very reminiscent of the days of a certain Jonny Wilkinson. The forwards make the hard yards, and before anyone could look up Jonny had already got himself into double figures.
Ford spoke to a crowd of excitable journalists following the game on Saturday:
“I’m just buzzing we got the win as a team. We’ve had a challenging build-up in the last three or four weeks, performance-wise. Inside the camp, we know we’ve not been too far away in certain areas, and especially the last eight, nine, ten days since we’ve been in France, we felt there’s been a performance building.”
“I’m proud of the way we started the tournament because you always want to start with a win, and in terms of the game tonight I thought the boys up front did a brilliant job and put us in the right field position.
“Alex Mitchell kicked brilliantly, Danny Care kicked brilliantly which got us into field position, and then we were so disciplined defensively, which gave us the opportunity to score points – I’m so proud of the boys.”
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It’s not often that a player scores three drop goals in a game, particularly nowadays, but it appears as though this could be all about to change.
“Marcus, Faz, and myself after every session, we drop goals, it’s part of what we do, it’s part of our plan. It’s such a crucial, critical weapon at times, you’ve seen how influential they’ve been at World Cups as well.
“It’s something we’ve spoken about a tiny bit more, but the whole plan wasn’t about drop goals tonight, it was just about imposing pressure and trying to come away with points in whatever way we can.
“Thought I was on track at one point tonight”, Ford said about Jan de Beer’s five drop goal record in a World Cup. “That’s incredible five, isn’t it.”
The England number ten went on to explain the moment in time that he felt England started to pull away.
“I think that the crucial one tonight was probably the third one that took us more than seven ahead.
“Tonight where it was dead greasy it was gonna be hard to hold the ball and move the ball and score tries, so it made it a little bit more challenging. To get more than seven ahead was critical for us.”
When asked about his success with drop goals in the past, Ford told the press, “Not got three in a game before. We were laughing in the changing room because Danny Care was the guy who has scored the most drop goals for England, maybe that was the meaning behind tonight, I don’t know.
“I think the thing with drop goals is the best time to take one is when the opposition least expect it. So try and disguise it a little bit, and then give yourself a little bit more time and space and hopefully try and kick it again.”
Ford detailed the life of a kicker, with emphasis on the sheer focus that it takes mentally to stay consistent.
“I think the temperature makes a massive difference [to the balls flight], the ball is different to the balls we play with in the Premiership, not too sure what is different about it, but they do seem to travel a lot faster in the air and a lot further.
“Even when you’re on a good run of kicks, that next one you always have the same challenge in your head, like mentally as well it’s just a new kick so you never take it for granted. You’ve got to get your process right, you’ve got to be so diligent.
“As the game goes on and gets longer as well it becomes bit more challenging as you’re a little bit more fatigued it’s life for kicker sometimes says you can’t hit a barn door, some days you can’t miss.”
Despite a quality and convincing win, Ford was keen to stress that the lads are not quite the finished article as of yet.
“That one performance tonight does make you the finished article by any stretch of the imagination. It’s a good start for us, but we’ve got some improvement to do.
“We’re probably gonna offer some different threats and come up with the best plan. The most critical thing that the last eight, nine, ten days has taught us is that you can have any plan in the world that you want, but it’s the lads that have got to bring it to life day in and day out – demand more of each of each other.”
England face Japan at Stade de Nice on Sunday at 9pm local time.