England are one game away from completing back-to-back Grand Slams for the first time in 25 years, but fly-half George Ford is unsure if success this year would be more of an achievement than last year’s.
Ford played a starring role in the Red Rose midfield during the 61-21 demolition of Scotland at Twickenham as he laid on two tries for Jonathan Joseph as England rampaged during the first half.
That result gave England the Six Nations crown and leaves next weekend’s trip to Dublin as the final hurdle in what would not only be consecutive Grand Slams but also a world record of 19 wins in a row.
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However, after winning their first Grand Slam since 2003 last year, Ford is unsure the feat would feel better this year around.
“We acknowledge that we have won the Six Nations but we want to go one better and try to get that Grand Slam,” said Ford.
“I’m not sure if it would feel like a greater achievement, but it would be another good effort.
“When you win the Six Nations and the Grand Slam like we did, in the next Six Nations the other teams will be more prepared for you and they will come after you more.
“Teams have been together another 12 months and they’re generally in a better position, so the competition becomes tougher.”
“We’ve just said in the changing-room then that our next focus is next week against Ireland. We are hugely excited about the challenge of going over to Dublin, and trying to go and create some history and memories with each other.
“We will prepare as well as we can this week to give ourselves the best shot to do that. We are hugely motivated to do it.”
Ford has struck up a partnership in the midfield with Owen Farrell under Eddie Jones and the pair flourished against the Scots and set away Joseph on a number of occasions.
And Ford admitted having another playmaker on the field makes his job easier, but insisted neither of their places are guaranteed in the team, with Jones keen to improve England’s strength in depth.
“Personally for me, it’s another set of eyes and he’s a brilliant communicator,” he said. “He understands the game and I think we can get the ball to the space pretty well.
“To have the two distributors there, and having those two people who can see space means you can get the ball to people like JJ’s (Joseph) hands and Elliot’s hands and Anthony Watson’s hands.
“It gives us the ability to run, kick or pass and be a threat to defences in more than one area. From a first phase point of view it gives us the ability to try and break down teams there and have another set of hands. JJ ran some brilliant lines today.
“Eddie will pick a team to win that weekend. Whether he thinks me and Owen at 10-12 is the team to win at the weekend, or whether he thinks a different combination is, that’s what’s so good about this squad at the moment.”