Leicester Tigers: Departing fly-half George Ford 'will play if he's best man for job'
Departing fly-half George Ford will play for Leicester Tigers in the coming weeks, if he is the right man for the job.
That was the view of the man that matters – director of rugby Richard Cockerill.
With Toby Flood on Six Nations duty with England, Tigers options for the No.10 shirt over the next month are likely to rest with Ford or Kiwi Dan Bowden.
Ford's decision to reject a new contract at Welford Road, for a reported move to Bath, was greeted with disappointment by Cockerill.
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And with the 19-year-old deciding to play his rugby elsewhere, there could be an argument to play Bowden ahead of Ford for the rest of the season to give the former Canterbury Crusader time to develop his game after just seven starts this season.
Bowden started the club's last two games in the LV= Cup but Ford is now back in the mix after a couple of games for England Saxons.
Cockerill says his decision on who will wear the No.10 shirt against London Welsh in the Aviva Premiership on Saturday will be down to who he sees as the best man for the job.
"Dan has come in at fly-half and done well there," said Cockerill.
"There is a very important month to come without our Test guys at the Six Nations and it is important to get it right.
"Dan has played a lot of rugby at fly-half in the past. He is not a front-line goal-kicker and that is a concern, but he plays very well with ball in hand.
"George is now back after the Saxons games and we will have to see what is the best mix for the team.
"If George is the best man for the No.10 shirt, then we will go with that."
Cockerill is likely to bring back several of his big names for the Aviva Premiership fixture at Welford Road.
Back-rowers Julian Salvi, Tom Croft and Jordan Crane, locks Louis Deacon, Graham Kitchener and Ed Slater, prop Marcos Ayerza and centres Anthony Allen and Matt Smith are all set for a re-call after either being rested for the LV= Cup defeat at Llanelli, or away with the England Saxons .
Despite missing two props with 128 caps between them in the form of Martin Castrogiovanni and Dan Cole this weekend, Cockerill will still have some really good options in the front-row.
"I have played Logovi'i Mulipola at tight-head over the past few weeks because that gives us a good option when Castro and Cole are away," said Cockerill.
"Fraser Balmain is raw but he is doing well at tight-head, and with Marcos Ayerza and Boris Stankovich on the loosehead side too, that is four really good props going into these games without our Test stars."