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England still learning how to live without Farrell says Ford

NEWS: England are still learning how to live without Owen Farrell as they begin a new era under Jamie George, according to playmaker George Ford.

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Farrell has ruled himself out of the ongoing Six Nations while he takes a mental health break from Test rugby following a World Cup in France where England finished third last year.

And he will be ineligible for England selection from next season after agreeing to join Paris-based club Racing 92.

The 32-year-old Farrell has been the central figure in English rugby for over a decade, be that as a flyhalf, centre, record points-scorer, attacking pivot and a captain who prides himself on his physicality in defence.

“It is different without him. He has been here for so long,” said childhood friend Ford, who will be England’s flyhalf against Wales at Twickenham on Saturday.

“He has been such an integral part – he has been our captain, he has been a massive leader for us and he stamps his authority on our team.

“So him not being here, of course it’s different, but there is always a time when things change,” said Ford, restored at No 10 in Farrell’s absence and with Harlequins flyhalf Marcus Smith out with a calf injury.

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The 30-year-old Ford is a seasoned international in his own right, with 92 England caps including 65 starts and the Sale stand-off has often partnered Farrell in the Red Rose midfield.

Yet while several England coaches Stuart Lancaster, Eddie Jones and Steve Borthwick have selected Ford, they’ve also dropped him in favour of Farrell, the son of Ireland boss Andy Farrell, for several high-profile matches.

A notable example came during last year’s World Cup in France where he was demoted after drop-kicking 14-man England to a pool win over Argentina in a virtuoso display.

“I have been through all the emotions – frustrated, disappointed, gutted, angry. It means a lot to you, so you are going to have the emotions,” Ford said.

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And he believes that experience will help him cope with the pressure of a capacity crowd at Twickenham as England look to build on their 27-24 win away to Italy in their Six Nations opener last weekend.

“I always back myself to go out there and keep getting better in case I do get another opportunity,” said Ford. “It’s about belief and a consistency.”

He added: “You become used to the exterior noise. Everyone’s got their opinion on who should play and the way England should play.

“I make all the choices I do to be the best player I can be and do the best job for England.

“If some people agree – or don’t – on who should be playing for England, for me that’s massively irrelevant.”

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