Stuart Lancaster: George Ford can boss England back into shape

Stuart Lancaster has full confidence that George Ford can boss England back into shape

Stuart Lancaster insists he has full confidence that George Ford can boss England back into shape on his first senior start – revealing the young fly-half has already started throwing his weight around.

After a fifth-straight loss on Saturday – England going down 31-28 to South Africa at Twickenham – head coach Lancaster has made five changes for the visit of Samoa this weekend.

None of those changes have been talked about more than seeing Ford handed his first start in the England No.10 jersey, the 21-year-old having made four appearances off the bench since his debut against Wales back in March.

Owen Farrell remains in the side, moving to the No.12 shirt which will see the duo recapture a relationship in these respective roles that they have had at Under 16, 18 and 20 level for England.

And Lancaster is adamant Ford will shine on the big stage, insisting that he is already belittling his age in training since being told he had been given the nod.

“Obviously there are some exciting combinations to look at, especially in the eight, nine, ten category I think,” he said.

“It is a big step for George to come into this environment and team but equally it is about George. It is about George taking control and running the ship the way he wants to run it.

“He is a confident player. Having been in camp for two-and-a-half weeks now I think he is ready to take the lead role.

“I think he will be fine handling it [the pressure]. I don’t have any problems about that at all. He is a very confident and mature young rugby player, we have to remember his age and how young he is.

“But he is experienced and the way that he manages a game is way, way beyond his age, but it will still be a big step.

“When I told him I told him you’re the boss and let’s get bossy and he has done that. He direct and organises the team. He will take the kicking responsibilities and could be playing in a World Cup and be responsible for that so he needs to know about that.”

After clashes with world champions New Zealand and the the number two ranked side South Africa already this month, throwing Ford in against the less-fancied Samoa seems like Lancaster has taken the safe option.

However the 45-year-old is warning his troops they still face a battle on their hands this weekend.

“For Samoa it will be their cup final,” Lancaster added. “I saw them beat Wales in a similar fixture a couple of years ago in November. There are a very difficult team to play against.

“It will be a huge occasion for them and they will be incredibly physical and competitive from the get go.

“For us it is not a game we can take lightly whatsoever. We have to build a platform and expand our game if conditions allow but I’m sure they will be trying to do the same to us.”

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