CHRIS FOY: George Ford must be SEETHING at his Six Nations snub. He has been the best No 10 in England for months but remains out in the cold… and Eddie Jones has twisted the knife by summoning rookie Orlando Bailey to train with the squad
- England boss Eddie Jones has snubbed George Ford from his Six Nations squad
- Jones’ No 10 options this year are Marcus Smith, Orlando Bailey and Owen Farrell
- Farrell has been named as England captain again despite a lack of game time
- Other uncapped additions include Alfie Barbeary and Ollie Hassell-Collins
George Ford must be seething. He certainly has every right to be. Leicester’s fly-half has been a dominant figure in the domestic game all season, but that apparently counts for nothing.
The 28-year-old finds himself trapped in a parallel sporting universe where form is irrelevant. He has been the best No 10 in the country for months – even out-performing the boy wonder, Marcus Smith – but he remains out in the cold.
Meanwhile, Eddie Jones has twisted the knife by summoning a rookie playmaker to train for the Six Nations. There is no room for an in-his-prime Ford, but there is for Bath’s Orlando Bailey, which is a reflection of his potential, but not of proven pedigree.
In-form No 10 George Ford was a shock snub from England’s Six Nations squad this winter
Ford has been in sensational form for Leicester but has not made the cut this time around
Granted, Jones must keep one eye on forward planning for the next World Cup, but if the immediate task at hand is to beat Scotland a week on Saturday, to launch a bid to regain the championship title, then Ford should have been a shoo-in for selection.
He couldn’t have done any more to force the head coach’s hand, but Jones is not a man to be easily swayed, by outside noise or even by weekly evidence from the club game. He wants to back Smith to run the England attack and he remains stubbornly committed to Owen Farrell as his leader.
Saracens’ Test centurion hasn’t played since mid-November, when he damaged his ankle against Australia.
Yet, Farrell has been picked as captain despite a chronic lack of game-time, while Ford has been pulling up trees for the Tigers in his enforced absence.
Bath’s Orlando Bailey (above) made the squad alongside Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell
Farrell (right, next to Ford) has been named England captain again despite a lack of game time
Courtney Lawes did a fine job as stand-in skipper for the autumn wins over Tonga and South Africa but the implication of today’s announcement is that Farrell is still seen as the long-term leader, until the next World Cup.
This selection reinforces the sense that the 30-year-old is untouchable and judged differently to everyone else.
He is certainly judged differently to Ford and to the Vunipola brothers – Billy and Mako – who continue their potentially terminal stint in exile.
Manu Tuilagi is another stalwart not selected, but he will surely come into contention once he has returned to action for Sale.
Wasps’ back-row star Alfie Barbeary is one of several uncapped call-ups in Eddie Jones’ squad
Aside from the No 10 issue, there is plenty to enjoy in this squad, which is a potent blend of youthful promise and international experience.
Jones has brought in Alfie Barbeary, the Wasps back-row sensation, which suggests he does pay some heed to club exploits after all.
Other uncapped additions such as London Irish wing Ollie Hassell-Collins and Harlequins centre Luke Northmore have earned their shot, while Leicester forward Ollie Chessum is another rookie who is rising fast and worth a closer look.