England head coach Stuart Lancaster on Monday confirmed George Ford will stay at fly-half for Saturday’s clash against Australia.
Ford made a strong full debut in the 28-9 victory over Samoa at Twickenham and Lancaster wants him to continue in the number 10 jersey worn by Owen Farrell for most of the coach’s reign.
The experiment of moving Farrell to inside centre may be abandoned after just one match, with Lancaster giving serious consideration to selecting Billy Twelvetrees in the position he last called his own in the second Test of the tour to New Zealand.
Twelvetrees impressed as a second-half replacement against Samoa and is locked in a two-way duel with Farrell to face the Wallabies in the climax to England’s autumn campaign.
“George has earned the right to start again. He’s played well enough for that,” Lancaster said.
“Billy Twelvetrees impressed me from the bench. He did well and brought good energy to the team.
“He’s worked hard on the feedback we gave him when he came back into camp and he’s a genuine prospect for us at 12.”
Lancaster insists Ford’s first start was made easier by the presence of a second playmaker at inside centre, a role that both Farrell and Twelvetrees can fulfil.
“Owen helped George out a lot in terms of his on-field communication. George benefited from having someone like Owen alongside him,” Lancaster said.
“Owen provided that extra voice and obviously having (scrum-half) Ben Youngs inside him helped as well. It’s an option we wanted to look at and obviously we have a decision to make now.”
Ford kicked intelligently, threatened the line and withstood some ferocious hits. His ongoing presence at fly-half is a cause for genuine excitement for England fans and Lancaster insists his shift was every bit as impressive upon review.
“At the time I felt it was a good performance and a good first start for England, and after looking at it again it definitely was,” Lancaster said.
“We’ve talked a little bit about some of the options we took towards the end of the first half where we could have got a little more field position, but his execution when we decided to kick was excellent.”