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Ford in focus: Pre-Scotland week

02 February 2012

  • England U20 captain George Ford on new look side
  • It all starts in Glasgow on Friday night – Ford
George Ford after the final whistle of the Junior World Cup semi-final

Photo: Getty Images

We enjoyed a successful year in 2011 but we want to go one better this year and finally win the elusive Junior World Championship this summer. It was hard to take that defeat to New Zealand in the final and I believe we could and should have won that game. So this year we are determined to do it. And it all starts in Glasgow on Friday night.

A lot of the faces have moved on, notably Owen Farrell, who was a massive influence on the team last year, Christian Wade and the majority of our pack – most of whom are now playing Premiership rugby: Henry Thomas, Mako Vunipola, Joe Launchbury, Charlie Mathews and Alex Gray. But, Farrell and Wade aside, the backline will be the same, with the exciting partnership of Ryan Mills and Elliot Daly back together in the centres.

Hopefully we can pick up where we left off and really try to challenge teams with our expansive game. Charlie Walker is an exciting new addition this year and, fingers crossed, he can make a similar impact to Christian last year.

Despite the loss of a lot of our pack there are a few returning warriors – such as Matt Kvesic, one of our most consistent performers last year. Matt’s been getting a lot of Premiership game time and has showed he is good enough to compete with the best in England, so he’ll be a massive player for us this year. His work at the breakdown and overall reading of the game were crucial to our success last year and it’s vital that he helps to galvanise our new-look pack. Last year, much of our success came from fast, clean, front-foot ball. If we get that again, then I know we can cause each team a lot of problems.

We have some exciting talent out wide, not least Charlie Walker and Marland Yarde, and we’ll be looking to our natural expansive game again.

As Rob Hunter said in The Rugby Paper last week, we are trying to build consistency for the season and with a lot of us involved for our clubs now, it makes sense to go for the guys who will be available week-in, week-out. But there is no reason why the new guys can’t make just as much of an impact as most of them were part of the successful England U18 team that beat Australia in their own back yard.

They have come through the John Fletcher masterclasses, like the rest of us in the U20s, so as long as we can come together and buy into the coaches’ vision I have every confidence we can be successful.

Owen Farrell celebrates George Ford's try in the 2011 Junior World Cup semi-final

Photo: Getty Images

This will probably be my last year in the U20s so I’m even more determined to make it a year to remember. Last year was great for me, personally, but another successful Six Nations and then the World Championship is my goal.

I’ve been happy with my form this season and the couple of weeks at Leeds really helped my sharpness. I’ve been back at Leicester for the last couple of weeks and to get game time in the LV= Cup and the Heineken was really good for me and now I can’t wait to get started with England again.

What Owen has achieved is all down his own hard work and dedication. I’ve known him since we were about 14 with our Rugby League background and we’re good mates so I was really pleased for him.

He was part of our team last year but in the space of a few months has jumped straight into the full Elite Player Squad which is inspirational to the rest of us. It shows us that there is a plan in place and that gaining experience for your country is great for your development.

George Ford was talking to The Rugby Paper, available every Sunday.