George Ford believes his playmaking axis with Owen Farrell is ready to stand the test of time after England reunited their creative brains trust for Saturday’s World Cup clash with Samoa.
Ford and Farrell will start together for the first time since March 2021 having won 31 of the 40 Tests in which they have been paired together – a success ratio of 77.5 per cent – and head coach Steve Borthwick is hoping that magic still lingers.
Having compiled man of the match displays against Argentina and Japan and then stepping off the bench for the rout of Chile, Ford has been restored at fly-half while Farrell moves to inside centre.
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The first time the two operated together in tandem was also against Samoa in 2014 and Ford believes an attacking fulcrum that was particularly successful at the last World Cup can shine again.
“We’ve done it a lot of times and even though not as much in recent times, you can just feel it,” the Sale fly-half said.
“Even though there’s a bit of time where we haven’t actually played together the understanding and the connection would be as strong as its ever been.
“Not having done it for a period of time maybe could benefit us because it probably sharpens you up a bit.
“We’ve been having discussions all week about that partnership and combination – what do we need from each other?
“When you’ve been doing it for a period of time you probably take that for granted a little bit. It’s exciting because we’ve had some real success with it in the past.”
The last World Cup to be held in France took place in 2007 when Ford and Farrell practised with England as teenagers due to their family links with Brian Ashton’s squad.
George’s father Mike was an assistant coach while Farrell’s father Andy was a member of the playing squad.
“We spent time with the backs and the kickers. The lasting memories I have are kicking balls back for the kickers,” Ford said.
“That’s what made it so good, coming to France, in and out at the weekend like our families do now and then back to school on the Monday.
“It made it all a little bit more surreal, doing that at the weekend and going back to school on the Monday.”
Farrell, who leads the team and has been assigned goalkicking duties, believes the best might yet be to come from being asked to pull the strings in sync with his long-standing friend.
“I’m pretty close to George so we speak about everything rugby-wise, regardless of what the team is anyway. We’re on the same page. I’m looking forward to it,” Farrell said.
“People have talked about the amount of times we’ve played together before, but it’s not been for a while.
“We both hope we’ve kicked on since we’ve last played together. Hopefully we show that on the weekend.”
Farrell needs two more points to become England’s highest scorer of all time, eclipsing the mark of 1,179 set by Jonny Wilkinson.