George Ford: England fly-half to miss Japan and New Zealand tour with Achilles injury

Sidelined: George Ford will not travel with England to Japan and New Zealand (Andrew Matthews/PA Wire)
Sidelined: George Ford will not travel with England to Japan and New Zealand (Andrew Matthews/PA Wire)

England have been dealt a considerable blow ahead of their summer tour to Japan and New Zealand after George Ford was ruled out through injury.

The experienced fly-half will not travel with Steve Borthwick’s squad due to an ongoing Achilles issue that affected the end of his club season with Sale Sharks.

"Naturally we're disappointed that George won't be with us in Japan and New Zealand," head coach Borthwick said.

"Following specialist medical advice, and in consultation with George himself, we have decided this is the best course of action.

"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."

Ford’s injury and the continued international absence of former captain Owen Farrell - who has now joined Racing 92 in France, making him ineligible for selection - leaves Marcus Smith and Fin Smith competing for the starting No10 shirt, with England due to play their first-ever full Test match in Japan against a team now coached by former long-term Red Rose boss Eddie Jones in Tokyo on June 22.

They then head to New Zealand for a two-Test series against the All Blacks, with the opening match in Dunedin on July 6 followed by a closing clash in Auckland on July 13.

New Zealand are also the first scheduled visitors to Twickenham in November for an autumn campaign that also includes visits from Australia and South Africa as well as Japan.

Ford was England’s starting fly-half during the Six Nations following Farrell’s decision to stand down from Test rugby in order to prioritise his mental health and a calf injury sustained by Marcus Smith during a pre-tournament training camp in Spain, with his boot crucial in slender back-to-back opening wins over Italy and Wales.

He ended up starting every game during the tournament despite the fit-again Marcus Smith’s memorable drop goal at Twickenham that ended up denying reigning champions Ireland a second successive Grand Slam.

He will now compete with namesake Fin Smith - a Premiership champion with Northampton Saints after their thrilling win over 14-man Bath at Twickenham on Saturday, in which he scored eight points including a drop goal of his own - on England’s summer tour, having replaced him as Ford’s primary back-up during the Six Nations after returning from injury.