Stuart Lancaster welcomes England competition for places

England coach Stuart Lancaster says competition for places in the team is healthy after they ended a run of five consecutive losses by defeating Samoa.

After Saturday's 28-9 Twickenham win, Lancaster said he enjoyed playing usual fly-half Owen Farrell at inside centre, with George Ford replacing him.

"I think it's good, this competition in positions," Lancaster told BBC Radio 5 live's Sportsweek programme.

England 28-9 Samoa: Lancaster to decide between Farrell and Ford

"We need to create strength in depth in all positions."

Lancaster was particularly impressed by Ford, who kicked 13 points on his first start having missed out on a similar opportunity owing to an injury that kept him out of the tour to New Zealand in June.

"It was a tough, physical Samoa side to play against, but George Ford's performance was a step in the right direction for him," he said.

"He's so young as a player in international terms, but he's someone who's going to be around a long time for England.

George Ford (centre)
Ford's first England start was described by coach Lancaster as a "step in the right direction"

"I though it was a great first start for him. He looked calm, he looked composed and he controlled the game well. He was incisive at line breaks.

"This means Owen's now got some genuine competition at 10 but also we've got the option of looking at Owen at 12."

Ford, 21, described his debut as "massive", and said he enjoyed playing alongside Farrell, who was moved having failed to impress in the position against New Zealand and South Africa.

"I was pretty pleased with the way I struck my kicks, but I did leave a few out there," Ford told BBC Sport.

"It was great to play alongside Owen. He was brilliant to have playing outside me.

"At least two of the tries came from his communication to me, so it's great to have another pair of eyes out there, another number 10 who understands the game the same as me."

England captain Chris Robshaw
"It was great to get a win. It's a results business and we know there was a few errors out there and we were a little bit loose with the ball."

Despite Lancaster's enthusiasm, the coach acknowledged there are areas upon which to improve ahead of facing Australia next week.

"Against the best teams you've got to play consistently well for 80 minutes and we didn't hit that marker against either New Zealand or South Africa," he said.

"While we improved against Samoa, I still feel there's another 10-15% to go to beat Australia next week.

"We've got a very good young team developing who have never been smashed or taken apart by any team we've come up against."