Harry Ellis has applauded England coach Brian Ashton’s "heads up" approach to Test rugby after an impressive start to their Six Nations Championship against Scotland.
Leicester scrum-half Ellis produced his finest performance in an England shirt as the world champions regained the Calcutta Cup, combining well with comeback hero Jonny Wilkinson.
Fly-half Wilkinson, making a first competitive start in 12 weeks, marked an astounding international return – he had not played for England since the 2003 World Cup final – by amassing 27 points through a try, drop-goal, five penalties and two conversions.
But Ellis pushed him for man of the match honours, benefiting from Ashton’s invigorating approach.
Ellis said: "The way Brian has coached us is to play with our heads up and play what we see. He has given us that freedom, which has been brilliant.
"I like to play what I see, and it has shown when we get the opportunities we can score tries.
"It is just the start. We’ve won one game, and we are striving to be as professional as possible and have more success in the future."
Ellis has leapfrogged England’s autumn Test scrum-halves Shaun Perry and Peter Richards to secure the number nine shirt, yet he accepts there can be no complacency.
"There is always pressure," he admitted.
"There are some outstanding scrum-halves around the country. I had a slow start to the season and I was injured, but it is nice to be back.
"It took us a bit of time to get going, but the forwards played outstandingly well and delivered some good quick ball, which was a scrum-half’s dream.
"Sometimes there is no space, and other times there is quite a lot. I am sure in other games, it will be really tight around the breakdown.
"Hopefully, I can build on this. I’ve worked on everything in my game, and I try to be as professional as possible."
England continue their Six Nations campaign against Twickenham visitors Italy next Saturday, with the tournament’s regular wooden spoon winners reeling from a 39-3 loss to France in Rome.