George Ford’s plan to leave Bath at the end of the season has apparently hit the brakes.
Although the England international’s contract expires in 2018, Ford activated a clause in the deal that would allow him to leave the Premiership side at the end of the season – but according to the Times, Bath owner Bruce Craig will block the fly-half from leaving the Rec at the end of the current campaign and has told him he must see out his contract.
This is a somewhat different attitude being exuded from the club to just last month, when the Telegraph reported that Bath had given him permission to leave the club amid strong interest from Sale Sharks, with director of rugby Todd Blackadder stating that he would be allowed to leave if that’s what he wanted to do.
In fact, a number of replacements had apparently begun to be drawn up so sure were they that Ford was leaving.
Sale remain confident that a deal can be done but Craig’s hardline stance will make things a bit more complicated for the fellow Premiership side. Northampton, Exeter and Leicester are also believed to be interested in the player.
The report points out that the 23-year-old does not have an issue with the current management at the club despite his unhappiness, but relations have altered somewhat since his father Mike was fired from his role as Blackadder’s predecessor last summer.
With Ford Jr. still wanting to leave the club (and probably certain that he is legally entitled to do so), this one could still have a few twists to navigate before reaching its ultimate conclusion.
In the meantime, Ford was in flying form for Bath on Friday night as the side beat Bristol 57-22 to secure a place in the last eight of the Challenge Cup. He scored 20 points, including a going over for a try in the first half.