Ford: England can ‘play rugby’ if we want

Despite what some Wallabies may think, England are capable of playing expansive, free-flowing rugby – but they’ll slow down Saturday night’s second Test in Melbourne again if they have to, George Ford says.

Following last weekend’s 39-28 win over Australia, the tourists can wrap up the Cook Cup series with victory at AAMI Park.

But England has been accused by some observers, including new Wallaby Dane Haylett-Petty, of not wanting to “play rugby” in Brisbane, instead relying largely on the goalkicking of Owen Farrell to provide them with the majority of their points from penalties.

Ford claimed the characterisation of England as a team that can only play stodgy, European-style rugby was false – pointing to their wealth of exciting outside backs, including wingers Jack Nowell and Marland Yarde, and star centre Jonathan Joseph.

But he made no apologies in saying that they’ll do whatever they have to do to win.

“We want to be a team that can threaten all over the field,” Ford said.

“We want to pride our play on a dominant set piece and get that bit and the fundamentals right, a good defence, lots of energy and communication.

“But of course we want to be dangerous in attack as well. We can definitely play that way too, if we need to.

“We just need to make sure we do the right thing at the right time in games.

“That might mean we kick a bit more, make the game a bit more chaotic and play unstructured rugby, but until you’re in the game, you don’t know what we need to do.”

Ford said England had to improve their defence after conceding four tries in the series opener, and underlined halves Nick Phipps and Bernard Foley as the key Wallabies to shut down.

“(They) are what make Australia tick,” he said.

“The heartbeat of the team in terms of the energy from Phipps and the decision-making and running game of Foley, as well as his distribution.

“We’ve got to be on top of them because they’re obviously two players who have a lot to do with what Australia do good.”

England will unveil their team for the second Test on Thursday night.

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