Grasscroft-raised George Ford faces battle for Rugby World Cup number ten spot

IN LIGHT of fly-half George Ford’s sensational performances in an England shirt in recent months, most fans would consider him a shoe-in for the upcoming World Cup.

But former England international Mark Cueto admits he would swap the flamboyance of Grasscroft-raised Ford for the reliability of Owen Farrell as the side gear up for a tilt at glory.

Ford, who played was a revelation last season, guiding Bath to the Premiership final and impressing with 75 points for England who came within a whisker of recording their first Six Nations victory in four years.

But the 22-year-old former Waterhead and Saddleworth Rangers’ junior, and his Bath side came up short in May’s Twickenham final, with Farrell, returning from the injury that kept him out of the England side, in imperious form and inspiring his Saracens side to an emphatic 28-16 triumph.

And Cueto, who himself ran out 55 times for England including the Rugby World Cup 2007 final, insists the more experienced Farrell would be the smarter choice when England run out for their opening clash against Fiji in September.

England and Sale Sharks legend Mark Cueto with Land Rover during a Rugby
England and Sale Sharks legend Mark Cueto with Land Rover

“I think it’s been good for England that Ford has got the game-time he’s got, because it has shown that he’s good enough,” said the 35-year-old, who retired from rugby in May after 15 years at Sale Sharks.

“I think he did a fantastic job in the Six Nations, and prior to that we were in a position where Owen was dominating the shirt and we just weren’t aware of who else could fill that position if needed.

“George was sat in the wings waiting for that opportunity. He was showing all the signs but had never played for England, and if Owen had stayed fit then gone down in the Rugby World Cup, we were in a war we’d never been in before.

“From the team’s point of view it’s great we now have two No 10s we can rely on, and we know what they can do for the England team.

“In terms of who I would pick, for a Rugby World Cup I’d probably go with Owen. I just think from the way defensively he puts his body on the line, his goal-kicking, and the fact he seems to up his game when he puts an England shirt on makes him the best we’ve got.

“They differ a lot in the way they play; Owen is much more strategic while George is more of a distributor who gets his back-line going.

“It’s so marginal between the two of them, but if I was picking the team for the first game tomorrow, I’d go with Owen.”

Mark Cueto was speaking on behalf of Land Rover, a worldwide partner of Rugby World Cup 2015.

Land Rover is recruiting all 96 official mascots for the tournament as part of its ‘We Deal In Real’ campaign. Follow @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal

 

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