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We did all we could to keep George Ford - Leicester Tigers, Cockerill


Richard Cockerill has confirmed that George Ford will leave Leicester Tigers at the end of the season.

The club's director of rugby added that the 19-year-old has told the club he will go and sign for Bath, where his dad, Mike, is assistant coach.

Cockerill said Leicester had done "everything they could, both financially and contractually," to keep Ford.

He said Ford's decision to leave was "his choice, not ours".

The Tigers boss said he was disappointed with the move and was also very critical of the advice the teenager had received from his agent and father.

"George has been here for four years and we have spent a lot of time and money developing him," said Cockerill.

"But he has chosen to leave because he wants to go and play every week.

"From a Leicester end, it's disappointing because you want your best young players to stay.

"We did everything we could contractually to keep him, both financially and with the terms of the deal, even down to the small detail within the contract.

"But he feels he has to play every week and he feels he has been given (those) assurances wherever he goes.

"If players choose to move on because they don't want to stay and fight for their spot, that's cool. I can cope with that.

"But he has had plenty of game time this and last season.

"Toby Flood is a very good player and we pick on merit here.

"The same rules apply to everyone. You earn your place in the side and you have to earn your spot.

"Culturally, I am never going to put myself in a corner where a player says 'pick me or I am leaving'.

"It is not as black and white as that but that is virtually where we are at with George.

"Last year, he played in two semi-finals and two finals. And I don't understand why any young player, after being involved against Toulouse at the weekend, would want to take himself out of that environment.

"He is only 19 but the advice that he is getting from his agent and his father is that he needs to be playing every week. I can't control that and I am not begging anyone to sign for Leicester."

If Ford does complete a move to the West Country, Gary Gold's side will have to pay Leicester £45,000 in compensation for taking the services of a player who is still within the England Under-20s set-up.

And Cockerill says Ford has told him that Bath will be his likely destination.

"I have been told by him and his advisors that he is going to go and sign for Bath," said Cockerill. "There are all of the protocols around that and they will have to pay compensation.

"George is very close to his father and he wants to go and play for the team that his father coaches. You can understand that. That's life.

"For me, the advice he has been getting is wrong, but I have no problem with George and he is with us until the end of the season.

"He will play when he needs to play and if he is better than the guys we have got, he will play in front of them.

"But I want guys that want to play for us and George doesn't. That's it. We move on."

We did all we could to keep George Ford - Leicester Tigers, Cockerill

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