During the World Cup semi-final of England against New Zealand, England has recalled George Ford at fly-half with captain Owen Farrell shifting to insider center. Coach Eddie Jones dropped Ford to the bench for the quarter-final win over Australia.
Henry Slade makes way in the backs with Manu Tuilagi moving to the outside center in his place while winger Jonny May has been announced fit following an injury scare against the Wallabies last weekend.
Jones stated that “It’s the two heavyweights of world rugby – one dressed in black, the crowd favorite, the nation’s favorite, the other in white, probably the most disliked team in the world.
“We just feel that [Ford and Farrell] is the best combination for the start of the game,” he added.
“New Zealand play a certain way, and George’s work-rate off the ball is going to be super-important for us,” he continued.
“They bring a tactical awareness – when you play New Zealand you have to be practically very smart, and George and Owen together are probably at the forefront in that area in the world.”
“New Zealand are a great team. They have an impressive winning record since the last World Cup.
“Like any good team, you have to take time and space away from them and you have to find areas you can pressure them – we believe we have identified a number of areas where we can do that.”
In the second row, Maro Itoje and Courtney Lawes stayed together. George Kruis was replaced with back-row Mark Wilson. All over the week, Jones has been in a joyful mood. He told reporters, “There’s always nerves – you’re only human – but there’s that mixture between being nervous and excited which is the reason you coach.”
“To be involved in a game like this is the most fantastic experience as a coach, and it’s what you live for.
“Out of one hundred journalists in the room, as we saw, 97 think New Zealand are going to win.
“The three who put up their hands put them up timidly and hoped no-one saw them put up their hands.
“Our 31 players plus 20-odd staff believe we can win, and we’re the only people in Japan who believe we can win. We’ll take that situation and maximize it.”