England vs Fiji: Eddie Jones insists George Ford is on the level of World Player of the Year Beauden Barrett

Ford put in a masterful performance as England scored nine tries at Twickenham

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The Independent Online

Just as World Rugby Player of the Year Beauden Barrett was grounding the ball for New Zealand’s second try against Ireland in Dublin, England head coach Eddie Jones was at Twickenham claiming he had a player better than the All Blacks fly-half.

George Ford played a starring role in the 58-15 demolition of Fiji as England ran in nine tries, with the Bath man pulling the strings in midfield alongside his wingman Owen Farrell.

The pair combined superbly throughout to release the likes of Elliot Daly, Jonathan Joseph, Alex Goode and Semesa Rokoduguni – all of whom crossed the whitewash.

Ford’s long-pass for Daly’s maiden try was a particular highlight and an example of how well the 23-year-old has reacted after he was dropped for England’s opening win in the series whitewash against Australia Down Under during the summer.

That was not lost on the meticulous Jones, who believes he has now settled into the No 10 position so well that he can rival Barrett in many departments, while surpassing him in others.

“He probably feels a sense of security and I think he enjoys the sort of rugby we’re trying to play. He’s got a beautiful skills-set,” said Jones after the victory.

“I think he can be better than Beauden Barrett – no doubt about that. People rave about Beauden Barrett but I don’t. I don’t want to go into it any more than that.

“I just think he’s got a great feel for the game. He sees opportunities. He needs to work on his running game a bit, which we will work on.

“He needs to be more of a threat himself. He’s actually too selfless. He needs to be a bit more selfish with the ball at times and he will start to develop that in his game.”

When pushed on his comments about Barrett, whom he correctly predicted would be named the world’s best rugby player, Jones mischievously answered: “I don’t pick the Player of the Year.

“Yeah [I said Barrett would win] because the Kiwis run everything mate. When you run everything, you’ve got a good chance of winning it.”

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Beauden Barret scored in New Zealand's 21-9 win over Ireland on Saturday (Getty)

However, Ford, who has been linked with a move to Toulon after reportedly triggering the release clause in his Bath contract, insisted he was still learning from the best fly-halves in the world in order to improve his game.

“I try to watch as many games as possible,” he said. “Especially the other fly-halves around the world.

“It’s intriguing to watch how the others play, how they manage the game, how they attack, how they defend, their kicking game.

“You can always pick things up and learn things and be a student of the game and learn by watching as many games as possible and by learning from the best players in the world. It’s something I enjoy doing.”

It is the attacking side of his game which Jones wants Ford to work on, with the view of him becoming another try threat rather than just the playmaker he is already.

And Ford agreed with his boss, insisting the tries will come the more time he spends with the England set-up.

“Yeah I think you always want to be a threat yourself,” Ford added. “The way we play here we need numbers around you and guys running lines off you.

“We’re getting back into the swing of things in the way you train. The more we train together, the more games and time we have together, I think more opportunities will come along to do that.

“It’s great to have carriers like Billy, Launchbury, Mako and Ben Youngs at No 9, it’s great to be part of.”

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