Aviva Premiership
Cockerill defends policy over Ford
ESPN Staff
October 7, 2012
Leicester boss Richard Cockerill talks to the media, Leicester Tigers press conference, Oadby Oval, Leicester, England January 5, 2011
Leicester Tigers director of rugby has the choice of Toby Flood and Goerge Ford at fly-half © Getty Images
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Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill has hit back at criticism that he isn't giving young fly-half George Ford enough playing time.

This season Cockerill has favoured Toby Flood in the No.10 shirt, but he did start the 2011 IRB Junior Player of the Year in Leicester's 20-8 win over Sale Sharks on Friday. The former England hooker also requested that Ford didn't go on England's tour to South Africa in June so that he could undergo a conditioning programme at the club and he is adamant that staying at Welford Road is in the player's best interests.

"George has started 11 matches and played in a considerable amount of games," Cockerill told The Rugby Paper. "He started in the semi-final of the Premiership and LV= Cup and started both finals, one of which we won and one of which we lost. He's developing, he's still a young man and you have to trust our systems to bring young guys through and play."

Leicester have been one of the most prominent producers of talent for the England team in recent years and Cockerill has no doubts that Ford will be another play to join the club's illustrious list of players to win Test honours for England.

However, Cockerill only has to look at two other members of his Leicester squad to know that throwing young talent in during the early stages of their career does not always guarantee a glittering Test career. Mathew Tait and Anthony Allen were both awarded caps while still in their teens and after they failed to make an immediate impact, they were promptly dropped.

"We want George to be a very good player, but I've got the experience to ensure that is done in the right manner," he said. "You can see that with Ben Youngs, Tom Croft, Manu Tuilagi and numerous others, so it is unfair for people to make those sort of comments when, actually, they don't know the details of George's development. George is happy with us, he'll play plenty of rugby - the same as Toby Flood - and I'm confident both can stay and play well for club and country. There are a few examples of people getting pushed very quickly into the England team, not doing well and never being seen again."

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