Rugby: England coach Jones backs jeered Ford despite kicking nightmare

England head coach Eddie Jones (left), George Ford (centre) and Manu Tuilagi during training.
England head coach Eddie Jones (left), George Ford (centre) and Manu Tuilagi during training.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Eddie Jones remains defiant that George Ford will be his No.10 in the first test against Australia in Brisbane on June 11 despite the player enduring a confidence-knocking Twickenham kicking nightmare.

Bath player Ford got the head coach's full support to start the Cook Cup battles despite incurring the wrath of some frustrated England fans who heckled and booed as he left the field at the end of the 27-13 win over Wales.

The 23-year-old was Jones's first choice fly-half throughout the victorious Six Nations campaign despite his club Bath's poor Premiership and European showing, preferring him there with Owen Farrell at inside centre.

Ford also suffered the disruption of father Mike being sacked as Bath head coach and could well move to another Premiership club this summer.

But Jones, whose squad get on the plane to Australia on Tuesday, hit out at those who targeted Ford and even heaped praise on a player who managed just one successful kick from seven attempts in the game with Wales.

Asked what he thought about the crowd's booing, Jones insisted: "I didn't hear the reaction of the crowd but that's not very nice is it.

"I actually thought George was brilliant. I've seen Tiger Woods miss putts. I've seen Michael Jordan miss jump shots. Everyone has a bad day and his kicking wasn't on song but the rest of his game was brilliant.

"We scored five tries to one so the fly-half must have been doing something right. I am not worried about him because he's a tough boy and he will be fine.

"He's a good player and he will work it out himself. Good players do. I don't talk to him about his kicking but if he wants advice he can always ask Jonny Wilkinson."

Jones was certainly in no mood to let any negativity creep into his side's sixth win out of six games since he succeeded Stuart Lancaster as head coach following England's home World Cup humiliation.

The Aussie was in bullish mood as his team put behind them a poor first-half to overwhelm Warren Gatland's side with Luther Burrell, Anthony Watson, Ben Youngs, Jack Clifford and Marland Yarde.

He feels strongly that the England squad he has managed to drag from the depths of despair over the last six months and turned into Grand Slam winners can more than compete with the Wallabies.

He insisted: "I've no doubt we can win the series against Australia. I had no doubt before this game. I was just surprised we won this game so easily but we are moving in the right direction.

"But we're under no illusion, Australia is going to be much more difficult. The sort of attack they will fire at us will be much more difficult to handle than this one today. "To win the World Cup you need 28 real quality players. And there were guys today who really put up their hands to push for a permanent position."

Jones must decide who replaces the injured centre Manu Tuilagi in his squad with Burrell and Ollie Devoto keeping their fingers crossed.

He said sarcastically: "May be I should chat to the crowd as well about what they think and who I should pick!"

As for Wales, they travel to New Zealand on Monday for an even tougher task on the back of another defeat at Twickenham but head coach Gatland insisted: "It's disappointing to leave on the back of a result like this but not the end of the world. We will still go over there and give it a real go.

"We are still in good shape and I know the team is more than prepared to compete with the world champions."