'Tigers fly-half spot up for grabs'
August 7, 2012
Toby Flood is no longer automatic first choice fly-half at the Tigers © PA Photos
Youngster George Ford shone for the Tigers last term as he helped them to their Anglo-Welsh Cup win and also booted them into the Aviva Premiership final with an assured performance in the semi-final against Saracens. Despite Ford's heroics in the semi-final, Tigers boss Richard Cockerill insisted that Flood would start the final if fit, stating that: "He [Flood] is a very good player, and he has earned the right to play, if he is 100% right to play."
As it transpired, Flood failed to regain fitness in time and Ford started the final. But there seems to be a different perspective at the Tigers this term with O'Connor stating that both pretenders to the throne will have to earn their place in the team.
"He [Ford] proved last season in the final that he is capable of playing at that level," O'Connor told the Leicester Mercury. "Having him and Floody is a good luxury to have.
"It depends on what England choose to do because Flood is in the Elite Player Squad and Ford is in the Saxons, but there should be a lot of opportunities for Ford to play this season. It (the No.10 shirt) will go to the best bloke on merit, and Ford has shown that Flood does not have a mortgage on that spot and will have to earn that jersey every week.
"We all know that England were keen to take Ford to South Africa in the summer. And now that Charlie Hodgson has stepped aside, Ford must be pretty close to being in the mix with the national team.
"One or two bangs to those blokes in front of him and he could be playing for England in November."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September