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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 September 2007, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
Farrell may never succeed - Ford
By Bryn Palmer

Andy Farrell
Farrell has had a host of injury problems since switching codes in 2005
England assistant Mike Ford says the setbacks that have dogged Andy Farrell since his cross-code switch mean he may never hit the heights in rugby union.

The former Great Britain rugby league captain, 32, has come under renewed scrutiny after his role in England's 36-0 trouncing by South Africa.

"A year out of the game has done him no favours," Ford said.

"He is getting to grips with it but it is probably a bit too late, with his age, to be where he wants to be."

Ford, a close friend of Farrell since their rugby league days and when Ford was defence coach at Saracens, rejected suggestions - from Saracens director of rugby Alan Gaffney amongst others - that Farrell is not being used to optimum effect.

"He is a great leader in terms of his talk and presence, but it is not that simple to say we are not using him as best we can," he said.

"You have to look at the bigger picture - what we are doing from line-outs, kick returns, scrums - and get other bits and pieces in place first.

"It hasn't worked for us as a team yet, but we are still in the competition."

When you lose your two pivotal number 10s it is difficult to execute what you want

Assistant coach Mike Ford

With Jonny Wilkinson and Olly Barkley both sidelined for the South Africa game, responsibility for dictating England's game-plan fell to Mike Catt, playing fly-half in a Test for the first time since 1999, and Farrell.

The duo had just one training session together beforehand, and Ford admitted the Springboks - via scrum-half Fourie du Preez, fly-half Butch James, inside centre Francois Steyn and full-back Percy Montgomery - completely dominated tactically.

"The way they played was the way we wanted to play - a good kicking game, putting the ball up in the air so we could get underneath it and chase it," Ford said.

"At times we got our kicks wrongs in terms of technicality, some kicks should have stayed in, maybe we should have got more height on others.

"But when you lose your two pivotal number 10s who control the game for you, it is difficult to execute what you want.

Mike Catt
Catt won his 72nd cap against South Africa on Friday night

"Mike Catt has not played 10 in an international for a long while and you can't just expect him to step in and put in a first-class performance."

Both Wilkinson and Barkley should be available to face Samoa, and could even play alongside each other if the England management decide to dispense with both Catt and Farrell, who struggled to get distance and accuracy on their kicks.

Kicking coach Jon Callard admits England need a "radical re-think" of their strategy.

"There is a huge disparity between the southern hemisphere and northern hemisphere kicking games at the moment," Callard said.

"We need a radical re-think for the rest of this tournament and beyond up to the next World Cup in 2011. Why we can't get the distance like the other sides I am not sure.

"There is a technical aspect and there is a mindset. We just have to get the boys to believe they can hit the ball that far.

We are not the best team in the world at the moment, but the final is not until 20 October

Assistant coach Mike Ford

"But we need to play field position in a balanced way, either by running it, keeping possession, or kicking it there. It is not just about getting the ball from one end to the other, it is about having all the options available."

Ford revealed the players had asked for a clear-the-air meeting on Saturday to get the "anger and embarrassment" of the Springboks rout off their chests.

After an honest exchange of views, the coaches admit restoring confidence in the players' ability will occupy much of their time this week.

"We can beat Samoa, we can beat Tonga, and then we would probably be playing Australia in the quarter-finals," Ford added.

"We will give it our best shot. We are not the best team in the world at the moment, but the final is not until 20 October.

"We are not thinking about that but hopefully we will give a performance on Saturday after which people might say 'maybe England will still do something in this tournament'."

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