- Title: Ford back at flyhalf for England v New Zealand
- Date: 24th October 2019
- Summary: TOKYO, JAPAN (FILE - OCTOBER 8, 2019) (REUTERS) ENGLAND TRAINING
- Embargoed: 7th November 2019 10:27
- Keywords: England New Zealand Eddie Jones Rugby World Cup George Ford
- Location: TOKYO, JAPAN
- City: TOKYO, JAPAN
- Country: Japan
- Topics: Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA006B2GFSXR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: England coach Eddie Jones has reverted to his twin playmaker approach by recalling George Ford at flyhalf and shifting Owen Farrell to centre for Saturday's (October 26) World Cup semi-final against New Zealand, dropping Henry Slade to the bench.
That had been his preferred tactic in the pool phase of the tournament, when Ford was outstanding. But he dropped the Leicester man to the bench for the quarter-final win over Australia, against whom Jones said he had been "spectacular" after coming on during the second half.
Manu Tuilagi moves to outside centre while the pack is the same as against Australia, with the only other change being on the bench where Mark Wilson replaces Lewis Ludlam as back row cover.
Jonny May has recovered from a hamstring strain to start on the left wing, with Anthony Watson on the right and Elliot Daly at fullback.
Explaining his flyhalf switch, Jones said: "Whenever you play against New Zealand your work off the ball is going to be massively important. They like to move the ball around, they are very good on transition and George's work-rate off the ball has been absolutely exceptional."
Dropping Ford last week was seen as a way to stiffen the midfield to counter the physical threat of Australia centre Samu Kerevi. New Zealand midfield of Anton Lienert-Brown and Jack Goodhue brings a different, more technical and mobile threat, which Jones is confident Ford can handle.
Having him and Farrell back in harness, as they were for most of the World Cup warm-ups and pool games, gives more attacking options, with the likelihood that Ford will give way for Slade in the second half.
Jones said his team were braced to deal with the unexpected but his players' experience means they won't be caught out.
Thirteen of the England squad were on the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand in 2017 when the series was drawn and most of Saturday's team played in last year's dramatic 16-15 defeat to the All Blacks at Twickenham.
"Traditionally when you play against New Zealand the pace and intensity of the game gets you," Jones told a packed news conference after naming his team on Thursday.
"But I think if you've experienced that before, you understand what you have got to prepare yourself for and most of our squad have been involved in those games so we've got great experience."
Speaking about claims that someone had been spying on England's training session in Tokyo on Tuesday (October 22), Jones said they definitely saw someone and there was never an accusation that it was New Zealand.
(Production: Jill Gralow/Annette Faydenko)
- Copyright Holder: FILE REUTERS (CAN SELL)
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