- Cockerill expects tough battle between Flood and Ford
- Ford, 19, has added 10kg of bulk in a year for robust edge says Leicester boss
Photo: Getty Images
Toby Flood may be the player to most recently wear the No.10 shirt for England but with rising star George Ford showing his playmaking credentials, Richard Cockerill says the fly half berth is far from guaranteed at Leicester Tigers.
Flood is the most capped international in Stuart Lancaster’s Senior Elite Player Squad with a half century of appearances and regained the pivotal role in England’s back line for the second and third Tests in South Africa this summer.
Meanwhile, 19-year-old Ford, who started the Aviva Premiership semi final and final last season, spent the summer in the gym in order to add the requisite bulk to his frame to meet the physical demands of modern rugby.
And with the Tigers starting their domestic campaign against London Welsh on Sunday, former international hooker Cockerill now believes either player is good enough to marshal his backs, setting up a battle which only benefit England in the long run, and can even affect the short term.
"At Leicester in particular, nobody's spot is guaranteed," said the Director of Rugby. "We have seen in the past that guys have been left out of the side, when on paper you would have picked them.
"Toby reacts to it very well. He knows that he needs to play very well to be in the side because he wants to play for England.
"George Ford is younger but he is a very good player too. I am hoping he will kick on and be really good for us. Toby the same. Both need to play for us. We want to keep them both long term.
"Like we have with [tight-head props] Dan Cole and Martin Castrogiovanni. They are both playing Test matches, they are both playing for their club.
"They understand that not playing every week is beneficial. The difficulty is if they are both playing well. It is a great headache to have, two really good fly halves."
Ford has added 10kg in a year
Photo: Getty Images
Last summer, Ford helped England Under 20 to the final of the Junior World Championship in Italy and became the first English player to be named the International Rugby Board's Young Player of the Year.
But Ford, who was named in the England Saxons EPS this July, missed this year’s tournament in South Africa to work on his physique and Cockerill says the youngster will now have a more robust edge to his game.
"It was the right thing to do," he added. "It is perfect. He is 88-89 kilos. When he came home from the Junior World Cup last summer he was 79 kilos.
"He is quicker and more powerful and more robust than he has been before.
"It was a sensible decision from both club and country because if George kicks on this year he will not have another off-season for a long time.”
Watch George Ford talk about his experiences of a first England senior camp in Loughborough this summer in an RFUtv exclusive interview.