George Ford talks ‘really special’ Leicester Tigers and reasons behind Sale move

Welford Road will bid farewell to George Ford for a second time at the end of this season when the Premiership 's in-form player will leave Leicester Tigers to join Sale Sharks.

It's not uncommon for rugby organisations to confirm such deals so far in advance of moves materialising, naturally leading to concern from some fans that performances may suffer in the interim.

But Ford has assured supporters he'll remain committed to Steve Borthwick's programme for the entirety of his stay, particularly just as the Tigers have returned to a place of power among England's elite.

Leicester defeated Premiership titleholders Harlequins 16-14 on Sunday in a hard-fought and hugely profitable result, extending the club's unbeaten start this term and keeping them nine points clear at the summit.

It's enough to make Tigers fans wish their primary playmaker wasn't due to leave come June, but Ford told BBC Radio Leicester he's just one cog in a much grander machine.

"The club's bigger than any one player – it's bigger than me," Ford said to BBC Radio Leicester .

"The best way I can show my commitment to this club is playing as well as I can week in, week out. There's an awful lot to play for in the rest of the season."

Borthwick's side have machinations reaching further than a first Premiership title since 2013, with the club once again looking capable of challenging for honours beyond England's borders.

The Tigers travel to face Top 14 leaders Bordeaux in their Champions Cup opener on Saturday (Dec. 11) before welcoming Irish province Connacht to the east midlands one week later (Dec. 19).

Ford, 28, was part of that Leicester line-up that reached the pinnacle to clinch a 10th English title in 2013, after which he departed Welford Road to link up with coach and father Mike at Bath.

"I love representing Leicester Tigers, it's a really special club and a great place to play rugby," the Oldham native continued. "I enjoyed my time at Bath as well, but I've always had this niggling thing that I'd love to go and play where I'm from one day.

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"Since leaving school at 16, I came to Leicester for four years, I went to Bath for four years and I've been back here ever since. I've never had the chance to go and do it."

It's an admirable cause when one considers Ford—once the youngest World Rugby Junior Player of the Year—left home to chase his rugby dream as a teenager when he joined the Tigers academy.

His decision to leave Leicester just as they're back on top has led to some suggesting the player lacks loyalty, but there's an argument to be made that precisely the opposite is true.

"My grandparents struggle to travel and watch me playing," Ford added. "Maybe they can get a bit more of that next year, with my family there. And there's other things off the field, businesses which are up north as well.

"First and foremost, I thought it was a good rugby decision. I'm glad it's done so I can crack on here."

Leicester's 12-win streak tretches back to last term's season-ending victory away to Wasps, and Ford's omission from England 's autumn squad ended up being a blessing for Borthwick.

Sharks director of rugby Alex Sanderson may hope his international exile continues beyond his arrival at the AJ Bell Stadium next year if Sale are to get the maximum benefit out of his move.

The opportunity to play sport at the elite level is something only a small percentage can realise, but opportunities to do so near one's hometown are even rarer.

Ford is indebted to Leicester after nine years across two stints at the club, but fans will hope his assessment is accurate that there is life after the fly-half's impending departure.

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