George Ford hopes drop-goal work with Jonny Wilkinson can be a World Cup weapon

George Ford has been working with Jonny Wilkinson to turn the drop-goal into a weapon at the World Cup.

Ford landed three as England opened the tournament with a 27-10 rout of Argentina in Marseille last Saturday and is ready to continue using them if the opportunity arises.

To assist with the tactic, the Sale fly-half has been perfecting his technique with Wilkinson, who famously landed the drop-goal that enabled England to lift the World Cup in 2003.

Wilkinson kicked the winning drop-goal to help England lift the World Cup in 2003
Wilkinson kicked the winning drop-goal to help England lift the World Cup in 2003 (David Davies/PA)

“Jonny’s big thing is don’t worry about the posts,” said Ford, who continues in the number 10 jersey for Sunday’s showdown with Japan in Nice.

“Obviously you need to know where they are, but the only thing you can control is what you do in terms of how you place the ball and what you do with your body.

“Jonny said you can have the ugliest drop in the world but if you get your body right and the ball is in the slot, and you get the momentum of your body towards the target, you can do it.

“How many drop goals do you see that flap over? A lot of kickers say if you speak to kids growing up they are constantly looking at the posts as if they are going move to make the ball go over.

“The drop-goal has probably been underused. You watch Jonny’s era in 2003 and 2007 and the influence drop-goals had on the game then was enormous.

“Maybe the game has tipped the balance the other side of the spectrum where everyone thinks you need to score tries every two minutes, but you need a variety of ways of scoring.

“We had spoken quite a bit about them in pre-season and how big they can be, especially at World Cups. They can be really effective and hopefully we can show that again.”

In training, Ford competes with fellow playmakers Owen Farrell and Marcus Smith to see how many drop-goals they can kick – under the watchful eye of rugby league great Kevin Sinfield, who is now England’s defence coach.

Ford kicked three drop-goals in England's victory over Argentina
Ford kicked three drop-goals in England’s victory over Argentina (Mike Egerton/PA)

“It is interesting speaking to Kev because in rugby league you might not see as many drop-goals because it is only worth one point,” Ford said.

“But he said as soon as play-off games came around, how much they practised went through the roof because they knew they would need a couple in a semi or a final, so we are doing this thing at the minute where we kick until we miss.

“Obviously if you don’t kick many before you miss you might go again, but there is a fair bit of competition and pressure between myself, Owen and Marcus when we are doing it.

“We are bringing lads over to come and put pressure on us, because we are not daft, you are not in armchair. You need to make it as realistic as possible.”