George Ford has called on England to build on the attacking endeavour shown against Italy when their Guinness Six Nations continues against Wales at Twickenham.
Although outscored 3-2 on the try count, England honoured their pre-match pledge to play with greater freedom after releasing the handbrake imposed by the kick-focussed tactics used during the first year of Steve Borthwick’s reign.
Roaming wing Tommy Freeman, scrum-half Alex Mitchell, debutant Ethan Roots and Ford himself were influential in a pleasing pivot away from the conservatism seen at the World Cup.
While England’s ambition dimmed after half-time of the 27-24 victory in Rome, Ford views the opener as a promising start.
“I know the scoreboard says it was very close, but that second half, we were pretty comfortable,” Ford said.
“The main positives for me were how we responded to them scoring tries, how it felt when we were trying to fire shots in attack and then how we controlled the game in the second half.
“Our intent to play and move the ball was good and I’m really pleased about that. It’s always a balance. You always want to make good decisions and do the right thing at the right time.
“At the very front of our minds is the intent to play, the intent to get behind the ball and attack the defence and go and try and break the line and scores tries.
“Since coming into camp two weeks ago, that’s been the biggest mindset shift from us as a team.
“This is the first game and we’ve been trying to implement that. We could have made better decisions a couple of times but playing in it was pretty exciting. We want to build this.
“I want to keep the intent to play, break the line and score tries and probably pick our execution up when we’ve got the ball.
“We understand it’s going to be a tough day – it always is against Wales – but we’re really excited to keep on getting better.
“There has been a mindset shift in defence and attack that is really enjoyable to be a part of.”
For the first time since 2019, England began the Six Nations with a win as the Jamie George era began with five debuts being issued amid a call from the new captain to believe they can win the title.
Front runners Ireland will have a major say in that given their demolition of France in Marseille, but – in the meantime – Ford values a start that produced few mishaps other than lapses in the new defensive system.
“Winning the first game is huge. You always want to start this tournament with a win. It gives you a bit of momentum, confidence,” Ford said.
“You want to win that first game because you go back home to Twickenham against Wales, which is such an exciting game anyway, with a good result so that you can go again.”