Six Nations 2017: Owen Farrell-George Ford combination crucial, says Anthony Watson

George Ford's midfield partnership with Owen Farrell is "crucial" to England's success, says winger Anthony Watson.

Despite head coach Eddie Jones' initial desire for a bigger pairing, Ford and Farrell have been virtual ever-presents in England's record-equalling run.

Watson was among the try-scorers as they thumped Scotland 61-21 at Twickenham to retain the Six Nations.

"It's a joy to play outside those two," he told BBC Radio 5 live's Rugby Union Weekly podcast.

"At the moment, it's crucial having those two guys there. Their ability to pass incredibly well off both hands and square up defenders is key to freeing up space for us outside."

Outside Ford and Farrell, centre Jonathan Joseph scored a hat-trick against the Scots, and set up Watson's first-half try.

"JJ has got all the skills as well in terms of distribution," said Watson, who plays his club rugby for Bath.

"It's great to have those three guys [in the midfield], and myself, Mike Brown, Jack Nowell, Jonny May and Elliot Daly have really enjoyed playing outside them."

Watson missed both the autumn internationals and the start of the Six Nations through a variety of injuries, but made an early impact from the replacements' bench following Daly's withdrawal on Saturday.

"Injuries are frustrating at times, so to be out for 15 weeks was a bit of a battle, but to be able to come back, play at Twickenham and score a try was unbelievable," Watson added.

The 23-year-old has been tipped for a place on the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand in the summer, but denies he will be motivated by any individual head-to-head in the Grand Slam showdown against Ireland this Saturday.

"I don't really tend to think about individual match-ups," he said.

"I just try and get my hands on the ball and influence the game as much as I can

"We were delighted to have beaten Scotland in the manner we did. For us to come out and fire shots like we did in the first 20, and then to keep our ruthless streak throughout the game, was a great show of character from the team.

"That's something we are going to have to implement again in a hostile environment against Ireland."

Victory in Dublin would mean England break New Zealand's world record by securing a 19th consecutive Test win.

'We struggled with greatness tag' - Jones

England last won back-to-back Grand Slams in 1992, when the tournament comprised five nations, and no side has achieved the feat since the Six Nations began in 2000.

Jones said the achievement would make his side one of the greatest England teams in history but believes the players were "struggling with that tag" at the start of the Six Nations.

"Now our mindset has changed and we're embracing that we've been successful and need to go ahead again," added the Australian.

"It wasn't pressure inhibiting us - we just hadn't quite grasped the situation and that's my fault. I wasn't good enough in my coaching to make sure the team kept moving on, but we had a great meeting where we all spoke about what we need to do to go forward."

England lost 24-8 in Dublin in 2011 as they sought to win a Grand Slam, but Jones said his side would not suffer "the same pitfalls" having come through a "much harder" Championship than last year.

"This tournament has been much tougher," he said. "The standard of play is much higher and all the teams are immeasurably fitter than they were last season."

Beware the 'big bad wolf'

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen told BBC Radio 5 live's Sportsweek on Sunday that Jones has instilled a worth ethic previously lacking in England's team.

But the Australian said he was wary of such praise.

"Hearing Steve Hansen make comments reminds me of Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf dressed up as her grandmother," he said.

"You've always got to be careful of compliments, particularly from an All Blacks coach."

Hansen will lead New Zealand against the Lions this summer, and Jones added he will be "disappointed" if Warren Gatland does not select at least 15 England players.

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