George Ford may look the epitome of the cool fly-half, but the England playmaker believes his side will need to tap into their emotions if they are to regain the Calcutta Cup from Scotland in front of what is sure to be a raucous Murrayfield crowd on Saturday.
With Storm Ciara set to bring gale force winds and heavy rain across the United Kingdom this weekend, the weather may see carefully crafted pre-match plans torn apart by both sides in Edinburgh.
England are braced for a Scottish onslaught having lost 25-13 on their last visit to Murrayfield two years ago.
England have become known for their fast starts, yet they were sluggish from the off against a hugely impressive South Africa when losing last year’s World Cup final in Yokohama and then found themselves 17-0 down on the way to a 24-17 defeat by France in Paris in last week’s Six Nations opener.
“In a competition like the Six Nations where you go to somewhere like the Stade de France in the first game you’ve got to be right there emotionally and then you’ve got to go away again to Scotland, where you’ve got to be right emotionally again,” said Ford.
“But it’s also about not being up there for too long -– particularly in the week, because by the time Saturday comes at 4:45pm kick-off you could be absolutely spent from it.
“You’ve got to definitely touch that, but maybe not to the extent where it’s for every second of the time you’re on the field.”
– ‘Right type of fear’ –
AFP / ANDY BUCHANAN
Fear on the wing: England’s Jonny May
England squandered a 31-0 lead in a remarkable 38-38 draw with Scotland at Twickenham in 2019 and the sense remains that Eddie Jones’ men are vulnerable when the tide of a match turns against them.
“The game is 80 minutes and that is a long old time,” said Ford.
“Even if we start a game not very well, it is still about turning up, keep believing, recognising situations and actioning things.”
England got back into the game against France with two opportunist tries from wing Jonny May.
A team-mate of Ford at Leicester, the former Gloucester flyer has scored an impressive 29 tries in 53 career Tests.
For May, the “fear” created by the crowd during the pre-match anthems is a motivating force.
“The main thing that sticks out in my head is just before the game when they cut the music and they sing the anthem,” he said.
“It’s pretty special, you can imagine that would get them going, it would.
“It’s being ready for that but using that, because it gives you a bit of fear, but the right type because you have got to be ready out there.”