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George Ford: England must embrace semi-final pressure

New Zealand stand between Eddie Jones’ men and a place in the World Cup final.

George Ford has urged England to embrace the pressure (Adam Davy/PA)
George Ford has urged England to embrace the pressure (Adam Davy/PA)

By Duncan Bech, PA England Rugby Correspondent, Tokyo

George Ford has urged his England team-mates to embrace the pressure of Saturday’s World Cup semi-final against New Zealand.

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The biggest 80 minutes of the Eddie Jones era awaits at International Stadium Yokohama where the All Blacks are heavy favourites to secure passage into the final for a third successive tournament.

Ford has been restored at fly-half inside a centre combination of Owen Farrell and Manu Tuilagi and he is determined for England to rise to the occasion.

“It’s the semi-final of a World Cup. It’s a pretty pressurised game for both sides, but we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. We said that as a group earlier,” Ford said.

“Where else would we rather be than playing in the semi-final of a World Cup against New Zealand?

“If we can’t get excited about that, if we can’t embrace that and have the mindset to really attack that, then we shouldn’t be in the position we’re in.

“It will be a game that will probably be decided on fine margins, but it’s one we’re excited about.

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George Ford returns to England’s starting line-up (David Davies/PA)

“Of course it’s a pressurised situation, it’s a pressurised game, but we enjoy the pressure, we want to embrace it and I think we will do.”

New Zealand have not lost a World Cup game since 2007 and bristle with attacking options, but Ford insists England are ready to impose themselves.

“We’re coming up against a team who have got threats all over the field,” Jones said.

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Rugby World Cup George Ford v Richie Mo’unga. See stories RUGBYU England and RUGBYU England Ford. Infographic by PA Graphics

“With Richie Mo’unga at 10 and Beauden Barrett at full-back they’ve got some brilliant guys who can get the ball into space and they’re very dangerous, particularly off unstructured ball.

“We’ll have to be on our toes and alive in every moment of the game, but we’re also hugely excited about what we can put out there on the weekend.

“We’ve got some threats across the park. Hopefully we can get the ball into space so that they can show what they can do as well.

“We understand the team we’re coming up against, but we also want to enforce what we want to do on them.”

PA

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