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18-year-old tasked with defending George Ford's spiral bombs

By Chris Jones
(Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

England Rugby World Cup trainee Ben Redshaw has been given the daunting task of trying to catch George Ford’s spiral bombs when he appears at full-back for Newcastle at Sale on Friday night in the Gallagher Premiership.


The England U18 captain was invited to train with Steve Borthwick’s squad during the early part of their France 2023 stay at their Le Touquet-Paris-Plage base camp. That was the same week that ended with Ford firing the team to victory when scoring all 27 points in their opening pool match against Argentina in Marseille.

Two months later, Redshaw will now be tasked with trying to hold on to the wickedly spinning bombs traditionally fired into the sky by Ford, the England and Sale out-half.

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Those kicks have left some of the sport’s most experienced full-backs totally flummoxed and while Alex Codling, the Newcastle head coach, has admitted that his young 18-year-old full-back will make mistakes, he believes the former Sedbergh schoolboy is a special talent.

Codling said: “Ben Redshaw starts on Friday and he is the future of the club. Ben is 18, has just come out of school and has an unbelievable attitude and loves this club. We are going through a tough patch as a club and it is refreshing that he has no baggage and has worked extremely hard.

“We saw that when he played in the Premiership Cup against Sale when he was outstanding. He will make mistakes, no doubt, but that is the only way you learn in environments like when you have George Ford sending up spiral bombs.”

Redshaw has emerged from the same rugby school that produced Scotland centre Cameron Redpath and England prop Bevan Rodd, who is expected to be at loosehead for Sale when Newcastle attempt to end a five-game losing run in the Premiership.


Redshaw, who played in the defeats against Bath and Gloucester, has been marked out as a rising star. He joined the Newcastle senior academy in summer 2023 having come through the junior academy. Born in Leeds, he can play at centre or full-back. He captained England U18s to an emphatic victory over Ireland in Dublin earlier his year.

Codling explained that Redshaw was the future of the club, with bringing through local talent the key to ensuring that Newcastle remain competitive given the constant raiding of their squad by other clubs. For example, Mateo Carreras, who is sidelined with a hamstring injury, is leaving the Falcons at the end of the season to join Bayonne on a three-year deal.

“We have people like Mateo leaving who is a world-class player and we have done all we can to keep him. He has made a massive impact on the club. Getting the balance right and dealing with the here and now is important and for young players, there are both physical and mental pressures.

“I will not overload them and Ben is a huge talent along with others here. It is about giving them exposure for the wider benefit of the player, the club, and hopefully the national team. You have to live within your means and it makes it challenging at times and you are going to hit bumps.


“This is a massive job and the toughest in the Premiership by an absolute mile and we have made some changes straight away. We have a habit at the moment of compounding errors in games.

“We have to start making the right decisions or you will be punished by teams like Sale. Our loss to Saracens (50-12) was hugely disappointing and this challenge on Friday is just as big.”



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1 Comment
john 215 days ago

George Ford has been rested for Newcastle match

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