Leicester Tigers in no hurry to rush George Ford, says Richard Cockerill
Richard Cockerill says George Ford must be given more time to develop after enduring a torrid day with the boot in Leicester Tigers' 16-12 Aviva Premiership win against Northampton.
The 19-year-old missed five out of eight penalties on Saturday after starting his second game of the season at fly-half with Toby Flood away on England duty.
Ford's off-day with the boot failed to cost his side though, as Tigers still had too much for a Saints outfit that has now lost six on the trot to their bitter East Midlands rivals.
Cockerill said that, despite the hype surrounding Ford after some sensational performances last season, the teenager still had much to learn.
"George is a very good player but (against Saints) he had an off day with the boot," said Cockerill.
"He still did some very good things with ball in hand and you saw the space he created for Vereniki Goneva to set up Matt Smith's try.
"But his goal-kicking and the kicks he missed for touch were something we just have to cope with. It's just part-and-parcel of young people developing.
"I am not going to criticise or shout at him. I will put my arm around him, encourage him and he will start next week.
"He's a young lad developing. You will have these days with young players. Sometimes, they will have a bad day and his kicking was poor.
"George will be a very good player, potentially world-class. But there is a curve and he is 19, so let's let him develop at his own pace.
"He did some great things out there and he made his tackles. The one thing you expect him to do is kick his goals because he practises so hard every day.
"There will not be anyone more disappointed than George.
"He is a great kid and he will have the club's and my 100 per cent backing for his development."
Cockerill was satisfied with the win, courtesy of 11 points from Ford and Smith's try, which means his side go into the break for the LV= Cup comfortably in the top four.
"It was a game that we had to win," he said. "We were better than the result reflected and we put them under pressure for large periods of the game and got penalties for it.
"If we had kicked two or three of those penalties it would have been more comfortable."
Cockerill said that Louis Deacon left the game in the first half after a "bang on the back" and that Scott Hamilton, who was replaced by Goneva at half-time, had a slight leg injury.