England international George Ford has agreed a new contract with Leicester Tigers.
A Tigers Academy graduate, Ford made his debut for Leicester as a 16-year-old and won a Premiership with the club in 2013 before spending four seasons with Bath Rugby.
The England international returned to Leicester ahead of the 2017/18 season and was last season voted the Supporters’ Player of the Year.
“I believe in sticking it out through tough times and coming out at the other end"George Ford
A member of the England squad who finished runners up at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, Ford is regarded as one of the world’s best and his contract was the subject of speculation throughout the entirety of last year.
Speaking about the new contract, Ford admitted it was pleasing to have his future at Tigers confirmed and said he only agreed the new deal knowing the “building blocks” were in place for improved results in the future.
“It’s going to be small building blocks, rebuilding little and often, rather than an overnight fix … that’s the bit that was difficult for me,” said Ford.
“I want to be successful, part of a team that is winning trophies … and in an environment that is doing that.
“I love this club … it’s not anywhere near where people want it to be.
“If I didn’t believe we could make improvements, it might have been a different story, but I genuinely believe that.
“I believe in sticking it out through tough times and coming out at the other end.”
The 26-year-old has made more than 60 appearances for England and captained his country, including most recently at the World Cup in Japan, and says the contract speculation and planning his future has played on his mind in recent months.
“When it comes to this time of your contract cycle, it always plays on your mind,” he said.
“You want to make the best decision for you, your family and the club as well.”
The fly-half, who was once a team-mate of Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy, said his influence at the top was “positive”.
“It’s a positive change with Geordie at the top … you couldn’t ask for a more die hard Leicester man than Geordie,” added Ford.
Murphy says the re-commitment from Ford was a “great day” for Tigers, with a player of his calibre being something the club is “extremely lucky” to have.
“George, regardless of all the speculation, has shown that he wants to remain in Leicester as a Tigers player.
“He is one of the leading players in the world and could command, I am sure, incredible amounts of money from sides everywhere in the game.
“George’s commitment to wanting to improve every day and help lead the improvement of the squad in every area is something we are extremely lucky to have at Tigers.
“It was hugely disappointing for the club when he went on his ‘sabbatical’ for a few seasons, so to have him back for the past few seasons and now to s.ee him recommit to Tigers is a huge thing for the club, his team-mates, our fans.
“It’s a great day for Tigers to have George Ford recommit to Leicester.”