BATH RUGBY: England set to call on George

Wiltshire Times: George Ford was expected to receive a call-up by England coach Stuart Lancaster when he announced his squad for the Six Nations Championship yesterday George Ford was expected to receive a call-up by England coach Stuart Lancaster when he announced his squad for the Six Nations Championship yesterday

OLLIE Devoto has hailed the talents of fellow youngsters George Ford and Anthony Watson as Bath’s impressive start to the season was rewarded in yesterday’s England squad announcement.

Fly-half Ford received the nod to join Stuart Lancaster’s England EPS squad ahead of the Six Nations Championship, which was due to be revealed after the Wiltshire Times went to press yesterday morning.

The 20-year-old’s fine start to the campaign was expected to see him replace Toby Flood in the England group, with the Leicester man likely to be overlooked pending his much-rumoured switch to play in France at the end of the season.

Ford was believed to be set for the nod ahead of Northampton’s Stephen Myler, an impressive performance in Bath’s 27-27 draw at Leicester last Sunday adding weigh to his claims.

Watson, who scored a try in Sunday’s match, has also been receiving rave reviews this season and was also included in the Six Nations reckoning and Devoto, who featured alongside the former London Irish man as England U20s won the IRB Junior World Championship in France last summer, believes both players have considerably enhanced their standing at Bath.

Devoto said: “The good thing about George is he’s pretty down to earth.

“I don’t think his good performances have got to him at all.

“For me, working with him is fantastic. He really marshals the game well and talks to you all the time so it makes my job a lot easier.’’

On Watson, he said: “He’s improving game on game and this (against Leicester) was his best performance so far.

“I think he was outstanding on the wing and it’s credit to how hard he’s working. He’s always in for extras and quizzing the coaches on how he can improve so I think he deserves all the credit he’s getting.’’

Bath coach Toby Booth admits his squad could take a hit with international call-ups over the next month or so, with the onset of the Six Nations, but he will not be complaining.

“We’re going to lose some people to internationals and have further challenges around the corner but the mark of this team is how we deal with that,’’ he said.

“We’ve got ourselves in a position in the competitions we’re in to give ourselves a chance of moving forward and ultimately that’s what we wanted at this stage of the season.

“The biggest compliment you can have is your players being recognised by their country because it’s a reflection on your organisation and how the team is playing and where we are collectively.

“We want to push each individual to be the best they can be and if you become the victim of your own success then so be it.”

While Ford’s England inclusion has been much touted, the claims of Watson have also been pressed and Booth said: “He’s an exceptional talent with lots of ability and an unbelievable athlete.

“You saw that at the weekend with his finishing ability. He’s the first to admit that he’s just stepping out on his career and we’re still doing little bits and bobs with individuals.

“The answer is you never know (if he’s ready) until you put him in there. Is he the finished article? Certainly not, he wouldn’t want to be.

“The attitude of him and his colleagues has to be that you are only ever the finished article a minute before you retire.

“Anthony has kicked on since he’s been with us and I think that’s why we were desperate to get him here.’’

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