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There's much more to come from England fly-half George Ford - Ben Youngs

Published 20/11/2016

England fly-half George Ford was outstanding against Fiji
England fly-half George Ford was outstanding against Fiji

Ben Youngs insists George Ford's accelerating development means the England fly-half is pulling the strings like a veteran international.

Ford's vision and range of passing was imprinted all over Saturday's 58-15 victory against Fiji as the Grand Slam champions amassed nine tries to extend their winning run to 12 Tests, 11 of them secured under Eddie Jones.

While the 23-year-old's goalkicking remains a concern after missing two of three conversions once Owen Farrell had left the field, the assured timing of his distribution identified him as the undisputed ringmaster at Twickenham.

Jones views Saturday's man of the match as a rare talent, declaring that his "alignment on phase ball was absolutely outstanding, the best I have seen for a long time", and his half-back partner Youngs was equally impressed.

"George plays far beyond his years in terms of his rugby knowledge and how he plays the game," Leicester scrum-half Youngs said.

"It was another performance in which he looks 28 or 29 and as if he's been playing for years. He'll continue to grow and the exciting thing is there's way more to come because he's still only a young guy.

"George puts people into space, gives them time on the ball and makes the right decisions at the line. He knows how to play flat and how to play deep.

"This game was another example of how he gives the ball at the right time, giving guys one-on-one collisions and then pulling it out the back to guys like Elliot Daly so that they can do their thing.

"It's the right thing at the right time when under the microscope. It was an incredible performance from him and he's going from strength to strength."

Fiji were repeatedly opened up by Ford's ability to pick the correct pass as they slipped to a record defeat in the fixture and Youngs believes the challenge now facing the Bath playmaker is to develop his own running game.

"For him the next thing is to be able to actually take the line on. It's about being confident to transfer that from club to international level," Youngs said.

"This game wasn't a day where he could do that, but he automatically attracts defenders which creates space for other guys.

"You have split seconds to make decisions and he makes those decisions look incredibly easy. And then he has to execute the pass as well.

"He's patient....waiting and waiting and then boom, there's a pass over the top and Semesa Rokoduguni walks in."

Rokoduguni, Jonathan Joseph and Joe Launchbury scored two tries each as the outclassed Fijians were put to the sword, but the performance was not without its flaws as England leaked three soft tries either side of half-time.

"We could probably be a bit more ruthless when we get chances because we left a few out there - it could have been 12 or 13 tries," Youngs said.

"The tries we conceded were annoying and we should have done better in holding them out.

"How to keep our intensity and foot on the throat is a lesson for us.

"There's certainly more to come and that's exciting, we just need to iron out certain areas."

Emphatic victories over South Africa and now Fiji have left England on course for an unblemished year that continues with Argentina's visit to Twickenham next weekend before concluding against Australia on December 3.

The Pumas finished bottom of the Rugby Championship, although Jones views them as the second best team in this year's competition, and Youngs is wary of their threat despite their 19-16 loss to Scotland on Saturday.

"I've watched them closely in the Rugby Championship. They're exciting and they've changed their style from scrum, maul and kick to becoming an adaptable side," Youngs added.

"They move the ball a lot and at times we got caught by Fiji so they will be looking at that and thinking they can exploit us.

"They're a physical, fast, expansive team with the ability to use a tight game if they need to."

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