George Fordâs summer shoulder operation has been declared a success by Bath head coach Mike Ford, who predicts the fly-half will challenge Owen Farrell for his England place.
Fatigue took its toll on Ford towards the end of a campaign in which he played all bar 55 minutes of the 21 Premiership games he started.
But his coach and father, Mike, has defended the policy of playing his son through the vast majority of games last season and he also believes that missing Englandâs summer tour to New Zealand in favour of having shoulder surgery will soon pay handsome dividends.
Ford Snr told The Rugby Paper: âGeorgeâs operation was a success and it was the right thing for him to have missed the England tour.
âThere was talk of him taking part in the tour and delaying his operation, but it needed doing.
âItâs a World Cup year, he needed to be fresh and there are plenty of games for him to throw his hat in the ring for England.
âThereâll be massive competition for that No.10 spot now, with Danny Cipriani and Freddie Burns as well, but thatâs what head coach Stuart Lancaster wants.
âI see it as a massive positive for guys like George and Owen Farrell to have that competition because those two characters, who I obviously know well, will just try and get better and drive themselves on to regain the England shirt.â
Mike Fordâs refusal to rotate his son in league matches raised a few eyebrows, not least of all towards the sharp end of last season when Bath lost a number of close matches when Ford Jnrâs kicking let him down at crucial moments.
But coach Ford expects the 21-year-old to be better for the experience as he looks to guide the West Country outfit towards long-awaited silverware.
âWeâve got Gavin Henson and Ollie Devoto who can play No.10 but I donât see too many other teams rotating their fly-halves in the Premiership,â he said.
âGeorge played well last year, kept pretty injury-free and the Premiership and Europe is not a place to rotate and experiment a lot, you want your best side out there.
âI was very pleased with Georgeâs first full season in the Premiership. I always knew that once he was given a run of games he would prove himself.
âThe ability to prepare for games, figure out what he was doing right and wrong and then get back to it was what he needed. Thatâs what he got and Iâd expect him to make another major step forward next season.â
Ford admits that Bath will be driven by their failure to lift a trophy last season, adding: âWeâre still unproven but we improved massively last season.Â Sooner or later weâre going to get success.â
England "will benefit from Ford-Farrell fight at No.10"