England captain George Ford says his side will have to bring the intensity to Cardiff as Rugby World Cup preparations step up another gear this weekend.
The Leicester Tigers fly-half leads out his country at the Principality Stadium this afternoon (kick-off 2.15pm) aiming for a repeat of last weekend’s 33-19 win over Wales.
“We’ve had another great week’s preparation,” Ford said. “Obviously we had a pleasing performance and result on Sunday at home, but we’re under no illusions that it’s going to be a different challenge for us this week away from home in Cardiff, so the preparation has reflected that.
“We’ve tried to – and I think we have done – push training even further to make ourselves better each day, and put ourselves in a position to go and perform again at the weekend.”
England ended their rivals’ record 14-game winning run with victory at Twickenham, and face a near full-strength Wales side once more this weekend. Further home matches against Ireland and Italy are still to come before Eddie Jones’ men head to Japan for the Rugby World Cup.
Ford continued: “What an exciting opportunity for us all to go and play in a brilliant stadium [this is]. The game is usually pretty fierce, bags of intensity, it’s usually very physical, so we’re going to have to get a few things right this weekend.
“We’re going to have to be smart, we’re going to have to be physical again – probably even more so than last week – and put the two things together to get the result this week.”
“We’ve had another great week’s preparation.”George Ford
The match is the first since Jones announced his 31-man squad for the tournament on Monday – including six Tigers players – with the head coach explaining that Ford could be called upon to cover scrum-half behind Tigers team-mate Ben Youngs and England rookie Willi Heinz.
“I’d look forward to it,” Ford said, when asked how he would feel about shifting position. “Any time I’ve played or trained there I’ve actually really enjoyed it.
“You’re in the game constantly, obviously you’re doing a lot more running from ruck to ruck and behind the defensive line but you’re always in the game which is where I like to be, involved and keeping busy.
“The skillset of running, passing, kicking, it’s not too dissimilar to what I do already, it’s just one closer in to the forwards. I’d look forward to it.
“I’ve always had opportunities to spend the weeks training [at scrum-half] with people like Ben Youngs, which is good.”
Kick-off from the Principality Stadium is scheduled for 2.15pm this Saturday, August 17, with live coverage provided by Sky Sports.