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George Ford out of England’s summer tour with achilles injury
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George Ford out of England’s summer tour with achilles injury

George Ford has been ruled out of England’s tour of Japan and New Zealand starting this month with an achilles injury, leaving Marcus Smith and Fin Smith going head to head for the No 10 jersey. Ford started all five Six Nations matches this year at fly-half but Steve Borthwick and Sale Sharks have agreed that due to the pre-existing injury, the 31-year-old should stay in England.

Fin Smith suffered an injury scare in Northampton’s Premiership final victory over Bath on Saturday but the Saints director of rugby, Phil Dowson, revealed afterwards that his fly-half had been struggling with cramp, ensuring he will be named in Borthwick’s squad on Monday along with his namesake Marcus.

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Ford’s experience will be missed against Japan and the All Blacks as he joins Ellis Genge, Ollie Chessum and Elliot Daly on the list of high-profile absentees. “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 Borthwick. “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.”

Marcus Smith is the more senior of the two fly-halves at Borthwick’s disposal and it is understood he would have started the Six Nations as first choice had he not suffered a calf injury just before the start of the campaign. Fin Smith has enjoyed a fine season with Northampton, however, and will be pushing hard for a first start on the tour, having made cameo appearances as a replacement during the Six Nations.

Fin Smith, speaking after Saturday’s 25-21 victory at Twickenham, said: “I have come off the bench for 10 minutes in Italy and 15 minutes in Scotland and I don’t feel like I have actually made my mark at all on that jersey,. So that is the goal, to go into camp on Monday and give it my all and if I make my mark and make the 10 jersey my own that would be a massive way to end the season. Fingers crossed.

“We have an individual development plan and mine was to win the league with Saints and get an England cap. I have now done both of those things. When you play in these games [the Premiership final] you hope you then put your hand up and get an opportunity. It is hard to think about now, I would love to play 10 for England but being involved in the first thing and winning [the final] wasn’t bad.”

Source: theguardian.com