England head coach Eddie Jones has suggested that fly-half George Ford can become a better player than All Blacks star and reigning Player of the Year Beauden Barrett.
Barrett was named as the best player in the world at last weekend's World Rugby Awards in London.
Jones, speaking after a dominant performance from Ford in the ten shirt for England against Fiji, backed the Bath number ten to keep improving his own game to the point where he would be viewed as a better player than Barrett.
The England boss hinted that he had not been overly impressed by the New Zealand fly-half, who was in excellent form himself during his side's win over Ireland in Dublin. Jones' praise for his fly-half, and remarks regarding Barrett, are sure to raise some eyebrows.
"I think [Ford] can be better than Beauden Barrett – no doubt about that," Jones said.
"People rave about Beauden Barrett but I don’t. I don’t want to go into it any more than that. I’ll leave it at that.
"I just think [Ford] has 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."
England's victory was their 11th straight under Jones since he took over following the departure of Stuart Lancaster, with Argentina and Australia standing in their way of a perfect year.
Aware that a first defeat is inevitable along the line, Jones made clear that England are not afraid of losing and may even benefit from the experience.
"It’s always fun when you are winning. Our big test is when you lose a game," he explained.
"We’re not frightened of losing, we don’t want to lose a game, but we know if we do we will learn a lot from it. It’s all part of sport, it’s all part of developing a team.
"No one wins at 100 percent, not even the All Blacks, the Chicago Bulls didn’t, Barcelona don’t, Real Madrid. It’s impossible with sport because you are dealing with people. You are going to have days when you are a little but off and the other mob is a little bit on – so you are going to get beaten."
Jones revealed regarding his selection for next weekend that wing Jonny May is close to full fitness and that he and Mike Brown are in contention to start against Argentina, despite all of England's back three – Elliot Daly, Semesa Rokoduguni and Alex Goode – scoring tries against Fiji.
Daly was a surprise selection out on the left wing, with Jones and England viewing him as a valuable utility option for the future including at full-back, although he may not get a chance to impress in that position before the end of the year.
"It’s not a position I would have started in five years. But I’ve come on for Wasps there, so I was very positive about it," Daly said of being picked to play out on the wing.
"To get a start for England in any position is what I want. If that is wing, full-back, 12, 13, I don’t really mind. In my heart of hearts I think I’m a 13 but if Eddie wants me somewhere else I’ll give it my best shot.
"Eddie told me to go looking for work and I tried to do that as much as possible to add to the team."