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Under 20 coaches support Ford and Heathcote

08 March 2012

  • LV= Cup backing for George Ford and Tom Heathcote
  • Looking forward to seeing how they both go – Walshe
England Under coaches Rob Hunter (L) and Nick Walshe

Photo: Getty Images

England Under 20 coaches Rob Hunter and Nick Walshe have said that they're looking forward to seeing fly halves George Ford and Tom Heathcote go head to head when Leicester take on Bath in Friday’s LV= Cup semi final.

Appearing for their respective clubs means that both players will be absent for England U20’s Six Nations game against France on Saturday, but backs coach Nick Walshe says that the player’s development is paramount.

“It’s fantastic for English rugby’” Walshe said. “We’ve got two young guys, one 18, one 20, playing for their respectively clubs in a massive club game. Bath versus Leicester is an old rivalry, a huge rivalry, and having George and Tom come up against each other is great. We’re really looking forward to seeing how they both go and I’m sure they’ll both do very well.

“Of course it’s a loss not having them in with us – they’re very good players, but equally, we feel that for their own development, playing against each other in that semi final environment is great. We know how good they are, so it also gives us another opportunity to see someone else in the fly half spot – in this case Ryan Mills.”

George Ford (L) and Tom Heathcote

Photo: Getty Images

Head coach Rob Hunter added: “We had good communications with the clubs who both committed to playing the guys in the semi final, which is great. It shows that they really want to develop their young players and play them in what is a big game for both clubs.

“By the same token, we have supported that and it’s great that they’ve been given the chance to play each other in what I’m sure will be a very, very competitive game and we’ll be looking forward to seeing how that pans out.

“From an England point of view, despite not having both those guys available, we’ve shown that we have a real strength in depth with this squad. Henry Slade was injured last weekend and George and Tom are unavailable, but we’ve given the shirt to Ryan who has played No. 10 for Gloucester and I’m confident that he’ll go well.”