Recovering from injury that saw him miss the England tour of New Zealand, Bath fly-half George Ford assesses the best No 10s he's played with or against
A former IRB Junior Player of the Year, Bath lynchpin and second top points scorer in the Aviva Premiership Rugby this year, George Ford also made his England debut in the Six Nations before missing the New Zealand tour to have a shoulder operation.
Here he tells RW about five of the most talented fly-halves he’s faced…
Best place-kicking 10: Jonny Wilkinson
“I’d have to say Jonny (Wilkinson), not only for his longevity, but for his consistency. Everyone talks about the hard work he puts in – and I’ve been lucky enough to have a few sessions with him – but what I like is as games get bigger, say the Heineken Cup Final, or Top 14 final, his place kicking gets even better. He doesn’t wilt under pressure. He could also punished teams with drop goal from his left or right boot. His advice was to practice with an outcome at the end and concentrate on my technique so when the crowd are on your back and the tension is building, you shut the close down, focus and get the job done.”
Best 10 for game management: Jonny Sexton
“The way he controls things on the field, you can tell Jonny’s put his homework in the week before the game. The way he manages when to kick, run or pass is the best I’ve seen. When you play against him, he’s very vocal in organizing those around him. Since he broke through at Leinster and progressed to play in the biggest games for Leinster, Ireland and the Lions, you can see him growing in responsibility. He’s always been a 10 who demands total committment from him team-mates.
Best 10 for kicking out of hand: Charlie Hodgson
“I’ve played against Charlie a few times and obviously watched him growing up. He has a superb range and variety of kicks. I like the way he sees the space on the field and executes his kicks. He’s instinctive and doesn’t give it too much thought. Like a golfer round the greens, he has a real touch with the boot. I like the way Charlie spirals the ball from hand, which gives him accuracy and distance.”
Best defensive 10: Owen Farrell
“Obviously I’ve played with Owen for ages and it’s not just his big hits and the way he puts himself about that you respect, but the way he drives the team and lifts others around him. He’s the defensive energy of the team. He thrives on that part of the game. Luckily I’ve avoided getting smashed by him, but I’ve seen him knock plenty of people backwards. It helps that he’s a big lad, it’s his genetics with his dad but he wants to carry on the family tradition!”
Best running 10: Nick Evans
“I know Quade Cooper is a talented runner, but I’ll go for Nick Evans because I’ve played against him. He’s a Kiwi so he’s been brought up to play what he sees and take defensive lines on. He has excellent timing, and has a knack of taking the line on at the right time. If he makes a break it’s because he’s seen something. He’ll take on a tight five player who is puffing from a scrum, expose them and attack them. He’s pretty quick but uses the ball well to put team-mates into space. He’s a very clever player.”
George Ford wears the adidas Predator Incurza rugby boots, available from July 1st at www.adidasrugby.com. Join the conversation @adidasuk and @adidasrugby