The Rugby Club: Ford's injury is a blow for England's World Cup - Stuart Barnes

Last Updated: 23/05/14 10:12am

Ford: out of New Zealand tour

The Amlin Challenge Cup Final between Bath and Northampton has been overshadowed by the widely reported withdrawal of George Ford from England's tour to New Zealand.

Reports claim that while Ford will play in the final in Cardiff, he will not be boarding the plane to Auckland and will undergo surgery to a damaged shoulder.

Lancaster is already without Owen Farrell and Stephen Myler for the first Test due to the Premiership final, and Stuart Barnes says Ford's injury is a huge setback - not only for the summer tour, but for England's World Cup plans as well.

"Short term it is a big blow because of the absentees of both Myler and obviously Farrell," said Barnes on the Rugby Club.

"Long term maybe even bigger because I think George Ford is already behind in his development. I think Stuart Lancaster and England had a great Six Nations but Ford should have played in Italy - he needs more game time and it is a race against the clock to get him more experience on the board for a World Cup.

"Bath have played some wonderful rugby this season and Ford has been at the centre of it. What I would say is that whilst he has played some wonderful rugby - and I think he has got what it takes to be an outstanding international - I would say that his goal kicking has cracked under pressure and when Bath have got to key moment in games, like the last ten minutes, they have choked.

"It does not matter how good you are for 70 minutes of the game, if you cannot control the game and close it down when it matters, then you are not quite ready. It will be interesting to see if Bath can take Ford in that direction.

"On Friday night I am sure that Northampton are going to paint a big red cross on George Ford and come at him. I think Bath are really going to have to reorganise their defensive pattern to protect him."