England coach Eddie Jones says he decided to bring George Ford back into their starting lineup to face the All Blacks due to the flyhalf’s work rate.
Ford was utilised as a second-half substitute in England’s quarter-final victory over Australia, with captain Owen Farrell wearing the No 10 jersey last weekend. However, Jones has decided to once again change Ford’s role and bring him back into the starting lineup for the semi-final against New Zealand in Yokohama on Saturday, causing Farrell to shift to midfield.
When asked about his decision, Jones said it was very much a horses-for-courses selection due to the pace of New Zealand’s attack and how quickly they set up defensively.
‘Every game we have a look at the conditions, the opposition, what we think we need to do, what we need to take away from the opposition, and this is the best fit for us,’ Jones said. ‘Horses for courses. We just feel it’s the right combination this week. Work rate is going to be important.
‘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.’
Earlier in the week, Jones said that the All Blacks’ six-match winning streak over England would mean that they would enter the game as favourites and therefore be under more pressure. All Blacks coach Steve Hansen responded by suggesting England may be under equal pressure due to their failure at the 2015 World Cup, when they became the first host nation to fail to qualify for the playoffs.
Jones was far more balanced in his assessment on Thursday, admitting that his team would come under heat during some period in the match.
‘Every team has pressure,’ Jones said. ‘Twenty teams started the competition, 20 teams wanted to win it, there’s four teams left. Everyone’s been working towards that. I think it’s a great week, it’s one of the most exciting weeks in world rugby. You get a press conference [of this many people], you only usually [have] when you’ve done something bad. We haven’t done anything bad yet, so it’s an exceptional week for us.’
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