Eddie Jones warns George Ford a move to Toulon will cost him his England spot

 
Joe Hall
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Bath Rugby George Ford Toulon Eddie Jones
Ford for thought: England wouldn't consider anyone playing in France insists Jones (Source: Getty)

England head coach Eddie Jones has warned George Ford that he will be banished from the national team should he choose to play for Toulon in France.

The Bath fly-half is a wanted man by Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal who has previously coaxed Chris Ashton and Steffon Armitage to forego their international careers for a lucrative move to France's Top 14 division.

With Ford's father Mike having recently been appointed head coach, the pull could be even greater for the 23-year-old who has 18 months remaining on his Bath contract.

Yet Jones has made clear that Ford, who has played 26 times since making his debut two years ago, would not be exempt from the Rugby Football Union's policy of only selecting home-based players despite his undoubted talents.

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"I need to talk to George about it," said Jones.

"Obviously we don't want to lose George, but ultimately he's got to make a decision about whether he wants to play for England. He's responsible for his own decision. We want him to play for England. He knows that we want him to play for England, but he's got to want to play for England.

"It's an easy choice - you either sign for an English club or you sign for a French club. If you sign for a French club, you don't play for England."

Jones believes that although the RFU selection policy, employed since 2010, has deprived England of top talents at major competitions in the past, it remains the best option for the long-term health of the game.

The world's best team, New Zealand, enforce a similar policy meaning players such as Dan Carter can't wear the All Blacks jersey on their northern hemisphere tour this month.

"Let's get one thing straight here, we want to be the No1 team in the world," explained the Australian. "To be the No1 team in the world we need players who absolutely desire to play for England. So there's no choice here.

"The policy we have protects English rugby for the long-term. You've only got to look at what's happened in France where you've allowed foreign players to escalate to over 50-60 per cent and you have massive problems for the national game.

"You take some short-term pain for the long-term gain. And this is not an Englishman talking. This is a guy who is coaching England. I think for the long-term future of the game we need to look after the Premiership."

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