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Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder: George Ford up there with Dan Carter

George Ford has been described as a once in a generation player comparable with Dan Carter by the former All Black recruited to reverse Bath's slump.

Todd Blackadder only arrived at the Recreation Ground 10 days ago but has already seen enough of Ford to anoint England's fly-half as a special talent capable of pulling the strings for the British and Irish Lions next summer.

Blackadder has drawn comparisons between his new playmaker and New Zealand greats Dan Carter and Kieran Read, a duo he knows well from his time coaching the Crusaders, and even name checked a third outstanding All Black in Beauden Barrett.

"From what I've seen in a short time, George Ford is unbelievable. He's going to be exceptional," Bath's director of rugby said.

"I'd put him up there with Beauden Barrett and Dan Carter and I think he'll be a player of a generation, I really do.

'He's got vision, he sees the opportunities and he's got the skill-set to execute his decisions. He's got a great pass, he's got a great kick, he's tough and he's got genuine gas.

"What I love about him is that he plays right up to the line and takes on defenders, so he's got everything.

"He's very much the same as Dan Carter was at this stage of his career. The thing you won't know about George is that he's a student of the game.

"When it comes to the technical and tactical side, he just gets it. You come across one or two natural leaders, but he's got it all there.

"In training he is talking about the games. He understands defence and he understands attack.

"He's very much like Kieran Read - it's like having a conversation with him. He's almost like a professor of the game."

Ford's club future was thrown into doubt when his dad Mike was sacked last season, the price he paid for presiding over Bath's crash from Aviva Premiership finalists to a ninth-placed finish in just 12 months.

It was suggested that Ford might follow his father out of the west country, but Blackadder insists the matter has been resolved and has installed the 23-year-old as vice-captain.

"I think it has been sorted and that is a real testament to George. He has been fantastic that young man. He is a natural leader," Blackadder said.

"He has been open with me which has been really nice. I need to make sure that he can go out there and express himself. These things are pretty tough. Family always comes first."

When asked about Bath's title prospects, Blackadder replied: "There's no point trying to eat the elephant in one mouthful. We'll chip away and take small bites slowly."

And the Kiwi revealed he was offered an unlikely opportunity to bond with his players last week.

"We had a bus trip and the bus broke down, so it took about 12 hours to get to our game in North Wales," he said.

"That was the best opportunity I had to get to know the guys. I couldn't have planned it any better really. It was great to go away and be part of the team on the bus."


From Belfast Telegraph