George Ford says England's depth is 'frightening'
Last Updated: 22/08/17 9:47am
George Ford has lauded England's "frightening" depth of playing talent as the new rugby season nears kick-off.
Despite being without 15 star names due to the British and Irish Lions duty in New Zealand, Ford and England showcased enviable resources by claiming a 2-0 Test series triumph against Argentina two months ago.
England head coach Eddie Jones handed out 11 Test debuts - newcomers like 19-year-old forward Tom Curry, prop Harry Williams, flanker Mark Wilson and centre Alex Lozowski were among those who made a mark - and the Pumas had no answer, falling to 38-34 and 35-25 defeats.
England's front-line figures will be back and firing ahead of appointments with Argentina, Australia and Samoa in November, and Ford readily acknowledges the current rude health of Jones' squad numbers.
"Argentina was a bit of a different challenge," Leicester fly-half Ford said. "We had so many players missing, we had a lot of young lads and new lads in the squad, and as a 10 you have got to be able to understand that and try and bring them up to speed and manage them a little bit more.
"It was brilliant for me, and it was a really enjoyable two weeks out there.
"I enjoyed getting to know different people, guys like Alex Lozowski and Piers Francis. It is refreshing to get to know those guys and their games.
"What the Argentina tour did was it gave guys opportunities, and it gave Eddie and the coaching staff a chance to have a look at a few players.
"I have never known the strength in depth of what the English game is at the minute. If someone was to go down [injured] and not be able to play in a Six Nations game or an autumn Test, the amount of guys who could come in and play at that level and do really well is frightening, really.
"As a player, you understand that, so you have got to make sure you keep moving your game forward and improving your game. If you stand still, you are going to get caught up and you are going to lose your spot. That's the reality of it.
"Guys are getting experience of the Premiership now at a younger age, while the Under-20s World Cup and that programme is also helping a lot. You look at the Curry brothers, Nick Isiekwe, Nathan Earle, they have all come through the academies and are pushing for Test squads now, which is brilliant."
Ford, who rejoined Leicester from their Aviva Premiership rivals Bath earlier this summer, is a key part of Jones' plans building towards the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
But his immediate priority is settling back into life with the Tigers after four years away and getting their league campaign - it starts against his former club on September 3 - off to a strong start.
And with players such as Matt Toomua, Manu Tuilagi and Ford's fellow new arrival Jonny May featuring alongside him in the Tigers back division, Leicester are likely to be worth watching.
"I think our game, as always, will be built on strong foundations, but we definitely want to exploit that talent we've got on the edges," Ford added.
"They are all strong, elusive runners, they are all finishers and they are all eager to get their hands on the ball and have lots of involvement in the game.
"We want to try and get them in a bit of space. We think they can cause some damage. We've been working hard on our execution to hopefully exploit some space on the outside.
"At the top level, you have got to learn rapidly and evolve with the game. The game has changed since I was at Leicester four years ago. As a 10 now, you have got to be able to do everything - you just can't sit in the pocket and kick corners.
"You have got to be able to go to the line a little bit, be a threat yourself, put people in space and manage the game. You've got to be strong defensively, and then there are the other bits such as the goal kicking.
"You have got to be able to do a lot of things as a 10."