THE future of Leicester fly-half George Ford took another twist today when Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill claimed the teenager would be joining Bath.
Cockerill confirmed the England U20s ace would end his four-year association with the Welford Road club when his contract is up in the summer, adding the Ford would be joining father Mike - Bath's assistant coach - at the Rec.
Yesterday, Bath head coach Gary Gold cooled talk of his club bringing in the 19-year-old, but Cockerill told the Leicester Mercury: "I have been told by him and his advisors that he is going to go and sign for Bath.
"From a Leicester end, it's disappointing because you want your best young players to stay.
"If players choose to move on because they don't want to stay and fight for their spot, that's cool.
"But George has had plenty of game time and Toby Flood is a very good player. We pick on merit at Leicester."
Ford was reportedly offered a two-year deal to stay with the Tigers, with one of the stumbling blocks being the amount of playing time on offer, with Flood the current encumbent in the Leicester No 10 shirt.
In his midweek press conference, Rec chief Gold played down speculation linking his club with Ford, one of English rugby’s hottest prospects.
Denying any deal to sign the youngster was already in place, Gold said: “George is a good player obviously and I’m not going to bury my head in the sand and say he isn’t.
“The simple situation is that we’re not allowed to be talking to players like George because he’s covered by a movement management protocol and he hasn’t signed at the club.
"At this stage, we’re not allowed to have a conversation with him so there is nothing more to say other than that.
“It’s important to point out we’ve got Tom Heathcote and Stephen Donald under contract here.
“It’s an easy club to label (Ford) to (but) my understanding is that there was no official statement from Leicester on that. It was just speculation.
“I just need to make it very clear we’re not allowed to speak to the England U20 players and nobody is for that matter.
“By the terms set out by the stipulation of the Professional Game Board and the PRL, we’re not allowed to be speaking to those players so to that end he hasn’t signed and that’s all there is.
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