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Bristol's MacGinty signing opens door for Ford to Sale - report

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

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Out-of-favour England out-half George Ford has been linked to a move from league leaders Leicester to Sale for next season after it was confirmed this week that AJ MacGinty, the Sharks’ USA skipper, has signed for Bristol Bears. MacGinty had long been coveted by Pat Lam as they previously worked together in Ireland when Connacht won the 2015/16 PRO12 title.

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With the 31-year-old MacGinty agreeing to a deal that will take him from Manchester, where he has been since 2016, it has opened the door for a high profile out-half to be recruited and The Telegraph have reported that Ford, the 2019 World Cup final No10 for England, is now tipped to make the switch to the AJ Bell from Leicester. 

The 28-year-old has been in immense form this season at Tigers, responding magnificently to his painful England omission. For instance, while Eddie Jones was in emergency mode last week getting George Furbank ready to start against Tonga as the rookie England No10 following Owen Farrell’s isolation, Ford was putting Bath to the sword as Leicester completed their eight-match winning run to the start of the Premiership season.  

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Finn Russell on fighting water boys, facing the Springboks and expensive watches
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Finn Russell on fighting water boys, facing the Springboks and expensive watches

Ford reportedly is a frequent visitor to his home town of Saddleworth where he part-owns a coffee shop with his brother Joe. There is also the precedent that the out-half doesn’t sign an extension at a club that has released his father. Mike Ford led Bath to the 2015 Premiership final but he soon lost his head coach job there and it was followed by George signing for Tigers in 2017. 

Mike has since left his defence coach position at Leicester after his contract wasn’t renewed there last summer under Steve Borthwick and months later there is now speculation that George will also likely leave at the end of this season when his own contract is up.  

Currently in their first full season under Alex Sanderson, Sale are placed eighth after three wins in eight matches so far. They have had their injury issues at out-half and have left points behind with missed late kicks from rookies 10s in some of their games. Ford last played for England in their March 2021 Six Nations loss to Ireland and he has since been eclipsed in the Test squad pecking order by the emergence of Harlequins’ Marcus Smith and the renewed belief that Jones can make a viable Test out-half out of Northampton full-back Furbank.  

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The Telegraph have also reported that Sale will have further wriggle room to manoeuvre under the reduced salary cap with the likely departure of Springboks lock Lood de Jager back to South Africa when his contract runs out at the end of this season. 

 

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