England's George Ford says the squad are excited to begin their Six Nations campaign away to Italy on Sunday
Fly-half George Ford has shrugged off the suggestion that Italy are ideal opponents for England in Sunday’s Six Nations opener.
England will start their bid for a third straight championship in Rome, before Wales visit Twickenham the following weekend.
However, Ford told Sky Sports the England camp do not view the match simply as ideal preparation for more difficult tests in the coming weeks.
“We don’t see it like that,” said the Leicester Tigers star. “We see it as a really tough game, going out there against Italy [who are] at home.
“We understand the emotion and passion that they are going to bring, so we are expecting a really tough challenge.
“But we are really excited about it as well, because we feel we are ready to play.
“We have prepared really well, we have had two weeks together now – good training time – and we are ready to go out there and perform.”
Ford added that there has been no talk around the England camp about a possible hat-trick of Six Nations titles.
“We have not really spoken about the end outcome, all we have focused on is this first game,” said the 24-year-old.
“I think that is why we have gone all right up until now, we have just had a mindset of ‘the next challenge, the next game’ – obviously Italy this week.
“We try and focus as much as we can on that particular game and deal with the other games after that.”