George Ford hopes England will be able to utilise home advantage this Autumn as they seek to win their second World Cup crown. He insists his battle with his friend Owen Farrell for the number 10 jersey is bringing the best out in both players ahead of the tournament.
After being rested by head coach Stuart Lancaster for the 19-14 victory over France, Bath fly-half Ford was restored to the lineup for the woeful return defeat in Paris last month, where he struggled somewhat with his kicking and decision-making. He was able to banish memories of that uncomfortable evening at Twickenham on 5 September, pulling the strings from midfield in a dominant first half display and providing an excellent cross-field kick for Anthony Watson's 14th-minute try, as England defeated Ireland 21-13 in their final warm-up test.
The 2003 champions return to headquarters in just under a fortnight for their potentially tricky World Cup Pool A opener against Pacific Nations Cup winners Fiji. And while the atmosphere around the stadium was certainly helped by such a fast start from the hosts, Ford hopes such strong support will help to prolong their run of seven successive home wins at the most crucial time.
"Hopefully," he said when asked if he thought Twickenham was now a ground that opposition teams would not look forward to competing at. "We love playing here, it's a special place for us to play with 80,000 people behind us. We love playing at Twickenham, the crowd are like a 16th man for us. We've got a bit of a run going now, but we've got plenty of work to do in the next couple of weeks before Fiji."
Ford and Farrel's friendly rivalry
With Ford displaying his confidence and considerable maturity against Ireland, it is easy to forget that the 22-year-old remains relatively inexperienced at international level with only 13 senior caps to his name so far. Indeed, rewind just 12 months and it was Farrell who enjoyed the status of being England's first-choice fly-half, before he was dropped prior to the win over Australia last November and missed the entire 2015 Six Nations with a knee injury sustained on European duty for Saracens.
The two men are close friends having attended the same school and progressed through the youth ranks together and although he must surely now be favourite to start against Fiji, Ford is full of praise for how Farrell has worked behind the scenes and knows full well that all personnel decisions ultimately rest with Lancaster alone.
"It's Stuart's decision," he added. "Look, Owen's a brilliant player and he always will be. The way he goes out and trains every day is pretty phenomenal. He drives the team and he's a brilliant leader. We're constantly pushing each other. We're great mates, don't get me wrong, but like I said in the week we're massively competitive to get this starting jersey.
"But for the good of the team you know, we're not selfish about it. Whoever is playing, I started this week but he was unbelievable in the preparation building up to this week and if it was the other way around it would be the same. It's for the good of the team because it's a 31-man squad effort to try and win this thing."