George Ford declared himself fit and ready to ignite England’s attack when they face Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday, having drawn inspiration from one of the best playmakers in Australian rugby league.
Before playing a lead role in England’s 15-on-15 training session yesterday, Ford sat in the team dining room to watch Queensland defeat New South Wales in the State of Origin series decider.
A keen student of rugby league, Ford was particularly interested in the starring role played by Cameron Munster, the Queensland stand off who won the NRL title with Melbourne Storm less than three weeks ago.
Jason Ryles, the new England skills coach, was a member of that triumphant Melbourne management team and Ford has been mining him for tips on Munster and techniques that could sharpen England’s attacking game.
“Cameron Munster played well, didn’t he? Jeez. He is a good attacking player, very naturally skilful and that try they scored when he did three kicks in the space of ten seconds sums up what a natural player he is,” Ford said.
“I loved watching that game. We obviously have Jason Ryles in here with us and he coached Cameron Munster, so you pick his brains on certain things and see what you can pick up as a playmaker from the guys who are the best in the world at it.
“Jason has had a massive impact already for first receivers, ball players, playmakers but also in our general attacking on the edges, how we can execute better and play a bit straighter to preserve the space on the outside.
“There are just little tips and little cues that the league boys practise day in and day out but are really valuable for us, particularly the stuff you do off the ball most of the time.
Rugby league has been a consistent influence on this England set-up under Eddie Jones, who studies the code closely and is said to be interested in coaching an NRL team. Andrew Johns and Ricky Stuart, two legendary figures in Australian rugby league, have spent time in camp.
Ford said Ryles’s influence this week had been especially important as England prepared to face Ireland...
...and slowing the defensive line speed that is the hallmark of any team coached by Andy Farrell.
Owen Farrell will start at fly half with Ford held back until the second half...
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Extracts from Union article in Times show how much influence League has: