ENGLAND coach Eddie Jones has said George Ford will start at fly-half against Wales – even if Manu Tuilagi does come back into the picture for their crucial Six Nations game.
The Australian was effusive in his praise for fly-half Ford following Saturday’s 21-10 win over champions Ireland that kept his side on track for a grand slam. He admitted Leicester Tigers centre Tuilagi – back playing after 14 months of groin problems – could also come into the reckoning for the Twickenham Wales fixture on March 12 which begs the question would goal-kicking No12 Owen Farrell return to fly-half?
But Jones insisted: “George is going to be 10. If Manu comes in and makes a dash, he is going to have a chance of getting into the 23. I went and watched him play against Harlequins two weeks ago and he looked in pretty good nick.
“He probably only has 20 minutes of Test rugby in him at the moment but that 20 minutes could be pretty good. But George was beautiful today. Poetry in motion. He was flat, at the line, committing defenders. Wonderful.”
Jones conceded his side “left 10 to 15 points” out on the field at Twickenham with some sloppy decision-making and accuracy.
But he maintained: “We’ll definitely improve for Wales because we have two weeks to train.
“It’s just little things we have to improve on – where we catch the ball, what lines we’re running, making that decision on whether to go to the front or second line.”
Jones said he will ban himself from media duties until the Wales game following an outcry over his pre-match comments on Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton.
He brought the fly-half’s parents into his talk about the player’s whiplash injury but said: “I’m giving you commentary to give you stories. Now it’s gamesmanship. I can be like any other coach and say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ and not say anything.”