George Ford is intent on proving he can boss England’s backline without British & Irish Lion Owen Farrell’s help this summer.
Fly-half Ford is determined to spearhead England’s drive for a two-nil Test series win in Argentina, before rejoining Leicester for next season.
Ford and Farrell excelled as twin playmakers in England’s record 18-Test winning streak, but the Saracens pivot is now otherwise engaged with the Lions’ battles in New Zealand.
Eddie Jones must remodel his entire England team in Argentina to cope with a raft of absentees, with vice-captain Ford itching to take a tighter grip on the leadership reins — starting in Sunday’s Twickenham clash with the Barbarians.
“It’s good sometimes to play with different people and come up with different ways of trying to break teams down as well as defending and kicking,” said Ford, when asked how he will adapt in Farrell’s absence.
“I have to get in the team first because you want to be part of this team. It’s too good not to be a part of because of the way you get challenged.”
England need a new captain for Sunday’s BaaBaas clash, with Dylan Hartley involved in Northampton’s Champions Cup playoff on Friday.
Ford, Mike Brown and Danny Care were named as vice-captains in Jones’ squad to tour Argentina, but the England head coach has reserved the right to send the armband elsewhere this weekend.
Ford remains intent on stepping ever further forward on the leadership front, however, with the 24-year-old seeking to wield as much influence as possible this summer.
George Ford will look to shine for England in Argentina in Owen Farrell’s absence. David Rogers/Getty Images
“I’m looking to try to develop my leadership all the time really,” said Ford.
“As a 10, you’re more an on-field leader but I suppose especially last week and this week with Dylan [Hartley] not being here for example, there’s some more off-field stuff that I’ve tried to develop and take upon myself a little bit more, just to make sure that our stuff around camp on and off the field is where it’s expected to be.
“Obviously we’ve got [former captain] Chris Robshaw here who’s brilliant at that, Mike Brown and Danny Care as well so we’ve got four or five people that are trying to take a bit of a lead on that and make sure everything is in order.”
An understrength England know they will have their work cut out chasing that craved series win in Argentina – but Ford insists Jones’ squad has the quality and depth to do just that. The departing Bath star insisted he wasted precious little time fretting over his Lions omission, instead quickly refocusing on Argentina.
“Eddie rang the afternoon of the Lions [squad announcement]. Basically we just said ‘look we’re cracking on here’,” said Ford. “I don’t think it was even a question whether I wanted to go or not. I want to be part of this team, I want to be part of this journey.
“Eddie’s pretty matter of fact about things and he just said ‘let’s crack on’. I don’t think you would want to go to Argentina thinking: ‘let’s try our best and see what happens’. We want to go there and win two-nil and we are expecting to do so regardless of who is here.
“England is my sole focus. The Lions is irrelevant to me now. I’m trying to make myself a better player and be part of a great England team that can go to the World Cup in 2019 and try to win it. I’m massively excited to be part of this team because I know how far we have come in the last two years and I know how far we can go in the next two years.
“I had a great four years at Bath. I really enjoyed my time there and I have some great memories that I will take with me. I suppose that chapter of my career is over now. I’m looking forward to rejoining Leicester and hopefully being part of a team that can really challenge and win trophies again because I know that’s what the club can do and as a player that’s what you want.”
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Ford eyes leadership role in Argentina
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