How George Ford has fared settling back into life with England
One player’s agonising misfortune has very much become another player’s good fortune as England up their preparations for the upcoming Guinness Six Nations with injured skipper Owen Farrell unavailable for the entire tournament, a development that has opened the squad door up for George Ford to get a recall.
Ford hadn’t played for England since the insipid loss last March to Ireland, a result that confined his country to a fifth-place finish in the Six Nations, and despite being the form player in this season’s Gallagher Premiership, he remained out of favour with Eddie Jones until he was officially recalled on Monday to replace the stricken Farrell.
England boss Jones had started new favourite Marcus Smith at No10 in four of the five England matches across the Summer Series and the Autumn Nations Series, George Furbank starting the other match at out-half when Farrell was ruled out and the benched Smith hadn’t trained fully until that week’s captain’s run versus Tonga.
Despite maintaining his impressive club form over the winter with Leicester leading the Premiership and progressing as the No1 ranked side from their Heineken Champions Cup pool, Ford was overlooked last week when Jones named his latest England squad.
Rookie Orlando Bailey, who had been playing for struggling Bath, was even included ahead of the out-of-favour Ford but that situation suddenly changed over the weekend when it emerged that Farrell had been badly injured and an emergency call was put into Leicester for Ford to link up with England when they assembled in Brighton on Monday for a week-long camp.
Much would have changed about the England set-up in the ten months that Ford was exiled, new staff and multiple new players now being used by Jones, so how did the soon-to-be 29-year-old get on in his return to the squad? “George has come in with a fantastic attitude,” enthused Jones on Wednesday. “He has always been a guy that plays hard for the team. He deserves the opportunity to come back into the team.
“There is still areas of the game that we are asking him to keep moving forward and he is committed to doing that. Yesterday [Tuesday] we had our smaller group meetings, our inside backs, outside backs, back row and tight five, and the comment after on the inside backs was we saw George, Marcus and George Furbank all together looking at the video and talking about various things we want to do.
“He has played a fair few Test matches but he has got a lot to prove and he wants to prove it, so he is in competition with George Furbank and Marcus Smith for who starts at ten and finishes at ten. It’s going to be vital for the team going forward.”
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