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Premiership

Mike Ford’s Role Changed at Leicester

Mike Ford’s role has been revised at Leicester Tigers ahead of the new campaign

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Mike Ford’s role has been revised at Leicester Tigers and he will now take up the job of attacks coach.

Ford was brought in halfway through last season as a consultant to help the club avoid relegation. However, former Tigers coach Pat Howard has now taken over the job of mentoring the managerial group meaning that Ford has been allowed to shift positions.

Having scored only 47 tries during a terrible season for the Tigers, head coach Geordan Murphy is delighted to have Ford in a more defined role.

“The nature of last season it certainly felt I was in doing quite a lot throughout the season. Having Mike come on board and take a little bit more of a lead in the attack has been great for me in that it helps me oversee and have those conversations with Mike and we have got Phil Blake who has got a pre-season, he has been putting the defence together,” he said while talking to Leicester Tigers TV.

He went on to give a rundown of which coaches will be taking control of each area as the club look to massively improve on their 11th place finish last season.

“He joined us in January and that was probably one of the massive areas of improvement that we expect to see. Mark Bakewell is taking the forwards and Brett Deacon is picking up all the work that needs to be done in and around that. We have resourced well and hopefully, we can keep improving. Mike is going to run the attack. Phil will run the defence, Mark will run the forwards and Brett is going to do breakdown across the club. At the minute Boris (Stankovich) does the scrum and does that throughout the club and we’re lucky. One of the things that I was conscious that I wanted to do was use people where they are strong. We have got some great coaches in the academy as well who will help develop and mentor guys. Dave Mele has come on board the academy and we will use him with the first-team nines and 10s as well,” he added.

The squad are currently training at an army base in Aldershot to try and improve their fitness levels ahead of the 2019/20 season, as Murphy believes that it’s an area where they were weaker last season.

“We are very lucky to be here and train at a new venue. We can get the players together for a week so we can have numerous training sessions and meetings and spend a little bit of time together… we wanted to work on our fitness. We have done that over the first few weeks and coming to an army camp enables us to train particularly hard. It [pre-season] has been good so far. The players are working very hard and I have to commend them. There has been a real attitude shift. People recognise we probably weren’t fit enough last season and it is something we wanted to address,” he finished up.

Murphy and his side have not only switched up the coaching staff but have spent big during the summer too and will be expected to have a much improved season than the one gone by.

Premiership

Worrying injury list for Saracens

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(Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images)

Saracens issued the following update regarding players who are looking to return from injury.

OWEN FARRELL

Will undergo surgery for an ankle injury sustained while playing for England against Australia, is expected to be out for 10-12 weeks.

JAMIE GEORGE 

Has returned to the club after picking up a knee injury last weekend at Twickenham, will return in 8-10 weeks.

ELLIOT DALY

Back in full training and available for selection imminently.

MARCO RICCIONI 

Will have surgery on Wednesday on the knee injury suffered last week, will miss the remainder of the 21/22 season.

RALPH ADAMS-HALE

Had successful surgery after dislocating his shoulder against Leicester, should be back playing in early 2022.

DUNCAN TAYLOR 

Will have surgery on Wednesday after injuring his arm against Harlequins in the Premiership Cup. Expected to be out for 3-4 months.

BILLY VUNIPOLA

Is back in training after suffering a knee injury at the end of October.

KAPELI PIFELETI 

Has returned to training following a shoulder injury sustained in the Storm match against London Irish in October.

SEAN REFFELL

Going through final stages of the return to play protocols following a concussion last week.

Source – Saracens

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Premiership

George Ford to join Sale Sharks

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Sale Sharks are delighted to announce that England fly-half George Ford has signed a long-term contract to join the club ahead of the 2022/23 Gallagher Premiership season.

Oldham-born Ford, who has won 77 caps for his country, put pen to paper this morning on a three-year deal which will see him join Alex Sanderson’s squad in July 2022.

The Sharks Director of Rugby hailed the move as ‘massive’ – and CEO Sid Sutton said it demonstrates the ambition of everyone at Carrington to take the club to the very top.

Alex said: “George Ford is world class – one of the very best fly-halves in the game over the past five years. This season he’s probably playing the best rugby of his career so we’re getting him at the right time.

“I met him twice and we had the chance to show him around the ground and the fact that he’s taken this decision, in the form that he’s in, with Leicester doing so well, tells me that he believes in the ambition of this club, and in the culture that we’re building.

“He’s a northerner and his heart is very much in this area. He’s been away for some years now but he’s coming back to his spiritual home. His family is hugely important to him and I know that his life outside rugby has played a part in this move.

“The exciting thing for me is that he’s 28 years old, and he’s coming here in the form of his life. We aspire to be a major force in the Premiership and in Europe too and we’ve got one of the world’s best flay-halves in his pomp.

“It’s massively exciting but not just because of how talented he is. When I’ve spoken to him it’s clear that he wants to help us bring the younger players in our squad on. He has so much desire to lift the people around him and that’s the kind of person I want here.

“It’s a massive boost for the club and it’s a big indication of what we’re all about and where we’re trying to get to.”

George Ford made his debut for Leicester Tigers in 2009, becoming the youngest rugby union player to make his professional debut in England, at just 16 years and 237 days.

After winning a Premiership title with Tigers in 2013, he moved to Bath, winning the Gilbert Golden Boot as the top-points scorer and winning LV= Young Player of the Year, before returning to Leicester for the 2018-19 season.

In total he has made 79 appearances for Leicester Tigers and is the league’s leading points scorer this season with 107 points to his name.

He made his England debut in 2014 and has since gone on to win 77 caps. He played a key role as Eddie Jones’s men reached the World Cup final in 2019.

Sharks CEO Sid Sutton said: “We’re just at the start of an exciting new era for Sale Sharks and this demonstrates the ambition of everyone at the club to push forwards and achieve great things.

“The club culture is based on the values of togetherness, pride, humility, fearlessness and passion and George has all of that and more. We’re a club with aspirations and good people involved pushing forwards both on and off the pitch and he wants to be a part of that.

“It’s massive for everyone involved with the club – players, staff, board and our supporters too.”

Commenting on the announcement George added: “I’m excited about what the future holds – playing rugby in the North West, representing the club where I am from and helping drive Sale Sharks forward.”

Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby

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Premiership

Tigers issue statement on George Ford statement

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Leicester Tigers can confirm that George Ford has indicated to the club that he will not be activating an option in his contract to remain beyond the current season.

The 28-year-old made his senior debut in 2009, while still a member of the Tigers Academy, and made 40 senior appearances for the club before leaving to join Bath Rugby in 2013.

He returned to Leicester in 2017 and has played 73 games during the past four seasons, to total 113 appearances for the club to date.

Leicester Tigers Head Coach Steve Borthwick said: “George has made a personal decision, which he informed us of earlier this week, which means this will be his final season in Leicester.

“I have had the pleasure of working with him for a number of years, with England and now here at Tigers, and I am grateful to have had that privilege.

“We are fortunate to have the best following in rugby, who have been able to enjoy watching George represent their club for many years and I am sure they will echo me in thanking him for his contribution to Tigers.”

“There are still a lot of games to be played in this season and George is fully committed to finishing his time at Leicester Tigers in front of big crowds at Mattioli Woods Welford Road, which our supporters can be proud of and to share in success with them.”

George Ford added: “It has been the most difficult decision of my career.

“I am proud and grateful to represent this great club at Leicester and I will give my all for the rest of my time at Tigers.”

Leicester Tigers will make no further comment on the matter at this time.

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