George Ford on swapping Leicester for Alex Sanderson's Sharks

‘I am quitting the Premiership leaders to go home… it may be a mistake!’: England star George Ford on swapping Leicester for Alex Sanderson’s Sharks this summer

  • George Ford has no idea whether he has made the right decision to join Sale 
  • His second stint at Leicester has largely seen them at the bottom of the league
  • But now they are flying, unbeaten and on their longest winning run in 20 years
  • Nevertheless, he is taking a £200,000-a-year pay cut to join Sanderson’s Sharks
  • Ford says he wants to be closer to his family and his girlfriend after time apart  

George Ford has no idea whether he has made the right decision by choosing to move to Sale in the summer.

His second stint at Leicester, since his return from Bath in 2017, has largely seen the Tigers at the bottom of the league. But now they are flying, unbeaten this season and on their longest winning run for 20 years. Steve Borthwick is at the helm and fans are flooding back to Welford Road for a renaissance which has Ford at its heart.

He is off though — and taking a £200,000-a-year pay cut — in July to Alex Sanderson’s Sharks. Why?

George Ford has no idea whether he has made the right decision by choosing to move to Sale

‘Being from the north, with my family, my girlfriend being up there, it was just the opportunity to represent where I’m from,’ explains Ford, who was born in Oldham.

‘I’ve been away since I was 16 and have always had this niggling thing in my head that I’d love to play for a team where I’m from one day, have my family in the stands more often than not.

‘They find it a bit more difficult now. It’s my grandparents and people like that. They struggle to come and watch me play.

‘There are other things off the field too. I’ve got a couple of businesses up north. First and foremost I made it because I thought it was a good rugby decision.

Ford’s (left) second stint at Leicester, since his return from Bath in 2017, has largely seen the Tigers at the bottom of the league. But now they are flying, unbeaten this season

George Ford (centre) eclipsed Marcus Smith (left), the man who stole his England shirt, in the battle of the fly-halves as Leicester beat Harlequins 16-14 at Welford Road on Sunday

‘The impact Steve and the coaches have had made it a difficult and emotional conversation. The club couldn’t have done any more, in terms of the infrastructure and everything around the coaches in place. It wasn’t anything to do with that. It was more about the connection with being back home.’

Some would view the move as a gamble but Ford doesn’t. ‘The reason the decision was so tough was because of how much I am enjoying it and the rugby we’re playing,’ he says. ‘But you’ve got to make a decision. I went with my gut more than anything.

‘I don’t see it as a gamble or risk. I don’t know whether it is right or wrong but I want to try to make it work and do my best.’

Ford hopes his commitment will not be questioned during his remaining months at the club. It should not. When Leicester lolloped along he was the main man coaxing some life out of them. He remembers well one of the lowest ebbs: a Friday night in April 2019 away at Newcastle when the loser would be condemned to relegation.

Ford kicked 11 points and controlled the game beautifully from No 10 for Steve Borthwick’s XV

https://sports-life-news.com/nfl/rb-index-week-14-four-teams-whose-2022-starting-rb-isnt-on-the-current-roster/

‘We were second bottom, they were bottom, whoever won was going to be safe,’ he recalls. Leicester won 27-22 late on. ‘A club like Leicester, who have been at the top for many years, it was the big story, wasn’t it?

‘That’s sport. You’ve got no given right to be anywhere. You’ve got to earn it, you’ve got to get a lot of things right to be successful. For two, three, four years we weren’t doing that.

‘You’ve got a choice as a player. You can blame everyone around you and let it affect your own performance or you just try to do as well as you can yourself.

‘Whatever the situation has been I’ve tried to give my 100 per cent commitment to this place because the club is bigger than any one player.’

He has taken a similar attitude to being dropped by England. His place was taken by Marcus Smith, 22, the hot young thing at Harlequins, who Ford’s Leicester beat last Sunday.

Ford, still just 28, is not bitter and will fight for his spot. ‘Nothing would change in terms of the way I prepare and the way I go about what I do,’ he says.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BIavoMnBwQf/

A post shared by George Ford (@george_fordy)

https://www.instagram.com/p/CTxU44jA_nD/

A post shared by George Ford (@george_fordy)

Nevertheless, he is off — and taking a £200,000-a-year pay cut — in July to Sanderson’s Sharks

‘I am looking to improve. I am looking to do my job as well as I can for the club, and why should that change, whether you’re getting picked for England or not?

‘It’s disappointing, you’re gutted not to be a part of it, but you shouldn’t change what you do, day in, day out. Whether you’re playing out here for Leicester or away from home or at Twickenham for England, you need to be ready and in a position to go and play well. That’s my mindset.

‘I spoke to Eddie Jones a couple of times over the summer, before squad selections. There were a couple of things, there always are. That’s the brilliant thing with the feedback you get from Eddie and his coaching team. It’s very clear and you can go away and work hard on it.’

Whether it is regaining his place with England, or guiding Leicester back to big finals, Ford is all in. ‘The best way I can show my commitment to the club is by playing as well as I can week in, week out,’ he said. ‘There is an awful lot to play for this season.’ 




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