Europe’s top rugby clubs have been put on notice following the news that English Premiership side Bath have given George Ford permission to leave at the end of the season.
Ford is one of the world’s most promising out-halves and is a crucial member of Eddie Jones’ England squad. Competing with Owen Farrell for the coveted starting jersey, Ford has established himself as a viable long-term option for the No. 10 shirt.
According to the Telegraph, Ford has been unhappy at Bath since his father, Mike, was sacked by the club at the end of last season and replaced with New Zealander Todd Blackadder.
This term the 23-year-old has, under the new head coach, been in blistering form and news of his potential availability has reportedly sparked interested from Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints. It is believed, however, that Sale Sharks have the inside track on any pursuit of the England international.
Though he is now free to leave at the end of the season, if he chooses, his contract with Bath is not due to expire until 2018. As such, should he be snapped up by a rival Premiership side, they would be required to pay Bath compensation.
Though Blackadder has granted Ford permission to leave, he is keen to keep the young star at the Rec. He is, however, quite pragmatic about the situation,
“If George makes a decision to leave at the end of the year, that will be his decision and it will be one that we will respect.
“Internally it is something for him and people who look after George and those decisions. I have not tried to get too deep with him, I just want him to really enjoy his rugby in the time we have left for him.
“He is really enjoying rugby. When he gets back here, he leads the team really well. There will be a lot of speculation around his future but we will be guided by what he wants to do and we’ll just take it as it comes.”
It is not every day that one of the top out-halves in world rugby becomes available so competition for his signature is likely to be fierce.
However, it all may come to nothing should Ford decide to remain and see out the remainder of his contract with Bath.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena
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