Andy Goode believes George Ford will need to produce “standout performances” for Leicester Tigers if he wants to get back into the England squad.
Ford was one of a number of big names left out of Eddie Jones’ 45-man England training squad, with Jamie George and both Vunipola brothers also omitted from the national set-up.
England head coach Eddie Jones has said that those players still have time to work their way back into the England squad in time for the autumn internationals, but insisted that they need to get back to their best.
Former England fly-half Goode was writing in his column for RugbyPass and argued that George Ford and Billy Vunipola should be the most worried of the senior players who missed out.
Andy Goode on George Ford.
“The two front-rowers [Mako Vunipola and Jamie George] in that quartet don’t have a lot to worry about and will surely be straight back in when it comes to the big England games in the autumn,” Goode wrote.
“On the other hand, Billy Vunipola and Ford both have proven top-class and in-form players named ahead of them and have been sent a message that they need a string of standout performances for Saracens and Leicester respectively in the coming weeks if they want to get back in the England squad.
“Marcus Smith’s displays last season for Harlequins were no flash in the pan – he was called up to the Lions tour and is most people’s pick to start at fly-half for England moving forward.
“Ford only played in five Premiership games last season and his international form wasn’t great.”
Eddie Jones has named a 45-player squad for a short training camp 🌹
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) September 21, 2021
George Ford’s career to date.
Ford has been a mainstay in Eddie Jones’ England teams since the Australian took over as head coach in 2016 and has already won 77 caps for his country at the age of 28.
The Leicester Tigers fly-half has mostly played with Owen Farrell outside him at 12, although he has been dropped to the bench on occasion to allow Farrell to slot into the 10 jersey.
The Ford-Farrell 10-12 axis has worked very well for the most part since Jones took over, but England’s performance in this year’s Six Nations has clearly caused the head coach to re-evaluate his options.
Marcus Smith’s stock has risen considerably in the last few months, having won the Premiership with Harlequins and won his first caps for England, as well as being called up to the British and Irish Lions squad.
The 22-year-old has long been backed as England’s long-term solution at fly-half, and should that prove to be the case, Ford may find game time hard to come by.