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'He'd be a brilliant coach, the Ford apple doesn't fall far'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images for Sale Sharks)

Sale boss Alex Sanderson has predicted that new signing George Ford has the potential to be a brilliant coach once his playing career is over. The 29-year-old is currently sidelined with the ruptured achilles injury suffered in the first half of Leicester’s Gallagher Premiership final win over Saracens last June at Twickenham.

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Aside from the laborious process of getting himself back to full fitness, something the Sharks expect will take at least until the end of December, the seasoned England out-half has been sharing his wisdom on the game with Sanderson and his fellow staff at the Manchester club that he agreed to join last November for the 2022/23 season.

A big deal was made last season about how Owen Farrell, Ford’s England teammate, made use of his two lengthy ankle injury layoffs by helping out with the coaching on the training field at Saracens, even spending a match watching proceedings unfold at the StoneX Arena in the company of director of rugby Mark McCall and his assistant coaches.

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Sanderson explained that something similar won’t materialise at the AJ Bell, that Ford won’t be sat – a la Farrell at Saracens – in the Sale coaches’ box for a match while he is unavailable to play for the coming months.

However, he did explain the influence that Ford is wielding on Sale while on the sidelines and added that he will be an excellent coach in the future just like his father Mike, who worked for Ireland, England, Bath and Leicester, and his brothers Joe, who is an assistant coach at Doncaster, and Jacob, who is head of rugby at Ipswich School and director of rugby at Bury St Edmunds.

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Asked by RugbyPass if Ford might help out the Sale coaches to a similar degree as Farrell did at Saracens during his injury layoff, Sanderson replied: “He does (help), the best players do anyway vicariously. I don’t think he will go in the coaching box to that degree but we do look for feedback from him on sessions and post-games.

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“There is a little group that I’d be meeting with just to get their purely subjective observations on the game aside from the lads who have been involved in it. It’s somebody else’s point of view so he has an influence on a lot of what he would do.”

Does Ford have a future in coaching? “He’d be a great coach, he’d be a brilliant coach. Both his brothers coach and his dad coached so I assume he is going to be another one. The apple doesn’t fall far from the Ford tree.”

What was Ford’s hot-take on last Sunday’s opening round Premiership win over Northampton? “I don’t keep much from ye (media) boys, which is probably one of my faults. Probably how excited we are that if we can get a few things right we can compete a lot better.”

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