Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Ford targets regular rugby

George Ford is set for a move away from Leicester

Leicester fly-half George Ford is aiming to follow the same path as Billy Twelvetrees, out of Welford Road and into the England team.

Twelvetrees is poised to make his England debut against Scotland on Saturday, having left Leicester last summer in search of regular first-team rugby with Gloucester. Ford is currently Toby Flood's fly-half understudy at Leicester and he has decided to take a similar route, convinced the only way he can develop is by playing every week.

Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill believes the 19-year-old - junior world player of the year in 2011 - is bound for Bath next season, where his father Mike Ford is assistant coach. "It is difficult when you are on the bench and you are coming on for 10 or 20 minutes each game. Playing a full 80 minutes is what I need to be doing really," Ford said.

"Like any young player, you need to be playing and the more you play the better you get. For any young player who is willing to learn and progress in their career they need to be playing as much as they can.

"It was one of the toughest decisions I have had to make and I didn't take it lightly. Young players need to be playing to learn and develop. It (my situation) is no different to any young player."

Ford shone in the England Saxons' victory over the Irish Wolfhounds last week and he is in line to start against Scotland A in Newcastle on Friday night.

"Friday was a good start and I am hoping to improve again this week," Ford said. "It is a great experience for us all. It is another step up from the Under 20s. I have been looking forward to this for a while. To get a start and get a couple of games under my belt is exactly what I wanted."

Everything comes back to the same issue of playing regularly.

Last week, Saxons coach Jon Callard insisted it is the only way rising stars can fulfil their potential. He is concerned too many get caught in a log-jam of talent at Aviva Premiership clubs.

"You can do all your training, all your fitness but playing is the only way you learn. That is the only way they develop," Callard said.