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England would not have gone out if George Ford had started, claims brother

Sale's Joe Ford thinks England paid the price for dropping his brother George at the World Cup.

England were dumped out of the competition after fly-half George was controversially benched for their defeats against Wales and Australia.

Joe Ford said: "It is easy to say I'm biased, but just looking how England were playing with George at 10 in the Six Nations, they were a lot more attacking team.

"You have got to score tries against teams like Australia because they are going to score tries, they are that good.

"It is easy to say with hindsight, but maybe if George had got more game time it might have been a different story."

George is set to return to the starting line-up for England's final game of the tournament, a dead rubber against Uruguay in Manchester on Saturday.

Joe, a stand-off with the Sharks, said: "He handled it really well. When you first find out you are not in the team it is tough for a couple of days but he just got back on the horse and trained really well. Thankfully he has got a start this week."

The Ford family has been in the news this week with Mike Ford, the former Great Britain rugby league international who is now head coach at Bath, touted as a potential new England chief.

Current boss Stuart Lancaster is under heavy pressure due to his side's failings in their home World Cup but Ford has already distanced himself from the position.

Joe Ford, 25, said: "I think he has come and said it is too early for him. He is really happy at Bath and there is no job available anyway. He wouldn't want to be disrespectful to Stuart Lancaster and the coaches.

"I think he wants to stay at Bath for a few years, build and win some trophies."

Ford was speaking at Sale's Carrington training base at an event for the club's MBNA Number Cruncherz initiative, which sees Sharks players and staff running financial education sessions for school children.

The event coincidentally involved pupils from Ford's old school, Rishworth, in West Yorkshire.

Ford learned rugby union while he was at the school but he was also a promising rugby league player and was at the Bradford Bulls Academy at the same time as another recent headline-maker, Sam Burgess.

Burgess' selection by England at the World Cup, less than a year after switching codes from league, has divided opinion.

Ford believes a lot of the criticism aimed at his contemporary is unfair.

He said: "I feel for Sam. I thought he did really well in the games. He made a couple of mistakes but they weren't all his fault.

"I am a big fan of his. What he did in the NRL was brilliant and I am sure in another year he will be double the player he is now in union.

"He is high-profile and the media always look to target one player, but Sam can hold his head up high. It is tough on him but he is the kind of character that will come back stronger."

:: MBNA Number Cruncherz is a financial education programme delivered by Sale Sharks to thousands of schoolchildren in the north west and north Wales.

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