George Ford should be England's World Cup fly-half over Owen Farrell, says James Simpson-Daniel
That is the verdict of former England international James Simpson-Daniel, who believes Ford produced the best fly-half performance for the Red Rose since the days of Jonny Wilkinson in his near single-handed destruction of Argentina in their World Cup opener last weekend.
And now with Japan looming in Nice on Sunday, and first-choice fly-half Farrell due back from suspension for the third Pool D game against Chile the following weekend, Simpson-Daniel believes head coach Steve Borthwick has a decision to make.
"That is the real hard one now for Borthwick. Do you force Farrell in at inside-centre? There is no doubt he will come back into the side when he is available in my opinion.
"Borthwick could say thanks George Ford you were outstanding but Owen Farrell is my captain and my starting fly half. Or you have them playing together.
"It would be a massive call to drop Ford. Borthwick has always said he would pick players on form – something he always wanted when he was a player. And on the back of the way he is playing you couldn’t drop Ford. It will be fascinating to see.
"The one player I feel sorry for in all of this is Marcus Smith. He is not going to start at fly-half now. He won’t be seeing anything of the 10 shirt.
"I just don’t agree with this talk of him now being the reserve full-back who will come on to be a game changer.”
Ford gets another shot in the No 10 shirt against Japan on Sunday night when England can all-but rubber-stamp their progression to the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.
And Simpson-Daniel, who was born in Stockton-on-Tees, learned the game at Sedbergh School and played 10 times for England, expects to see more of the same from Ford.
"What he did was adapt, he has such a good brain,” said Simpson-Daniel.
"Everyone says he basically runs training like (Jonny) Sexton does for Ireland.
"He took the game by the scruff of the neck and literally bossed it. It was an absolute masterclass by George Ford in terms of game management.
"England will now be backing themselves to go a long way now in this tournament.”