George Ford: Bath fly-half welcomes England competition

By Chris JonesBBC Radio 5 live
George Ford
Ford kicked seven penalties from seven attempts against Sale on Saturday

Bath fly-half George Ford says competing for the England number 10 shirt will make him a better player.

After missing the tour of New Zealand to have shoulder surgery, Ford created two tries and kicked 19 points on his return to Premiership action in Bath's 29-20 win at Sale on Saturday.

Ford's absence during the summer gave Freddie Burns and Danny Cipriani the chance to impress for England.

"It's brilliant for us," the 21-year-old told BBC Radio 5 live.

"To have four, five, six 10s playing at the top of their game can only make you a better player."

England's fly-half options
Owen FarrellSaracens 25 England caps, 271 points
Freddie BurnsLeicester5 England caps, 57 points
Danny CiprianiSale12 England caps, 70 points
George FordBath2 England caps, 0 points
Stephen MylerNorthampton1 England cap, 2 points

Ford made his England debut in the Six Nations earlier this year, coming off the bench against Wales and Italy.

And with first-choice fly-half Owen Farrell unavailable for the opening Test match against the All Blacks in June, Ford had been expected to make his first England start in Auckland.

But he opted to have the shoulder operation at the end of the domestic season, in order to begin the new campaign fully fit.

"The bottom line was I needed it done. I couldn't carry on with the damage that was there," he explained after the win at Sale, in which he kicked seven goals from seven attempts.

"I thought I might as well get it done as soon as I can, which I have done, and try and start the season as well as I can.

"It came through brilliantly on Saturday, I didn't feel it at all. It was great to be back out there and I'm loving it."

Freddie Burns
Leicester's Freddie Burns started at fly-half in England's last Test against New Zealand

England head coach Stuart Lancaster called up six fly-halves for a summer training camp in August, with Saracens' Farrell, Leicester's Burns, Northampton's Stephen Myler, Sale's Cipriani and Exeter's Henry Slade all joining Ford.

And with Burns and Cipriani both enhancing their reputations in New Zealand, Ford is aware he has work to do to get back into the set-up, with Lancaster naming his squad next month for the November internationals.

"Owen's there, you've got Freddie and Danny, while Stephen Myler had a great game for Northampton on Friday night," he added.

"It keeps you on your toes, it makes you want to get better. It can only be good for you. But all I'm thinking about is playing well for Bath."