England dealt blow as George Ford OUT of Tests against Japan and All Blacks

Dylan Coetzee
George Ford following England's 2024 Six Nations defeat to France.

George Ford following England's 2024 Six Nations defeat to France.

Fly-half George Ford will not travel on England’s tour to Japan and New Zealand due to an Achilles injury, leaving the number 10 jersey wide open.

The Sale Sharks man has been recovering from a pre-existing injury and was advised to take time away from the game and not travel with the Red Rose on their highly-anticipated tour.

Best decision

England boss Steve Borthwick admits it is a blow not to have his trusted tactician available for such a big tour but insists it is the best decision for the player.

“Naturally we’re disappointed that George won’t be with us in Japan and New Zealand, but, following specialist medical advice, and in consultation with George himself, we have decided this is the best course of action,” said the head coach.

“George is a big part of the England team and is an excellent professional who I know will rehab diligently to ensure he gets himself right as soon as he can.”

Northampton Saints v Bath: Five takeaways as ‘King’ Courtney gets a fitting send-off as Obano’s red causes chaos

Smith shootout

Ford’s unavailability leaves a massive void to fill at fly-half which will result in a straight shootout between the Smiths, Marcus and Fin.

Marcus Smith is the more experienced of the two which could aid his cause having been in the set-up for several years now. The Harlequin is a fantastic attacker and was one of the best fly-halves in the Premiership this season but has failed to reach his lofty standards consistently at Test level, leading to some game time at full-back for England where he has looked exciting.

Meanwhile, Fin Smith has just come off a Premiership title win having expertly guided his side throughout the season. Perhaps less of an attacker than Marcus, the Saint could be argued to have a more complete game and the temperament to match.

It may not have been what Borthwick would have been looking for but it does force his hand to find out which of the Smiths is a more sustainable long-term solution.

READ MORE: ‘I don’t believe it was foul play’ – Johann van Graan weighs in on decisive Beno Obano red in Premiership final