England fly-half George Ford admits he was willing to soak up Samoa’s best shots as he demanded retention for the climax to the QBE Series against Australia by proving his Test match mettle.
Ford’s fine all-round performance was the highlight of a 28-9 victory at Twickenham on Saturday that ended the five-match losing run that had built pressure on Stuart Lancaster’s men.
Making his full debut after four replacement appearances with Owen Farrell switching to inside centre, the 21-year-old kicked with intelligence and threatened the line to provide the cutting edge at fly-half England have been missing.
As impressive, however, was the resilience the smallest player on the pitch showed when targeted with several ferocious hits, most notably a high tackle from John Leota that earned the Samoa centre a yellow card.
“I didn’t feel too bad after that, which surprised me really. I just wanted to get back on my feet as quickly as possible,” Ford said.
“It was a good hit, but I didn’t think it was a yellow card. He read the play pretty well and fair deal, you just get on with it.
“Samoa are always going to be a little bit different because they are massive men who love the physicality battle. I wouldn’t say it was enjoyable to take those hits but you’ve got do it.”
Ford played a central role in two of England’s three tries, directing the move that created a hole for Jonny May to exploit before spiralling a pinpoint crossfield kick to Anthony Watson, whose subsequent step and offload sent Mike Brown over.
Australia share England’s pool at next year’s World Cup and will provide far more formidable opposition, but Ford’s accomplished shift in a first victory of the autumn indicates he is ready for the challenge.
“There were some aspects of the game that I was quite pleased with and some that I can definitely work on,” Ford said.