1. ITV Report

England fly-half George Ford to leave Bath for Leicester with Freddie Burns lined up to replace him

Bath's George Ford will join Leicester at the end of the season. Credit: PA Images

England fly-half George Ford will leave Bath at the end of the season, the club has announced.

Ford - who moved to The Rec in 2013 and has since made 32 appearances for England - is returning to former club Leicester for the start of the 2017/18 season.

The former Gloucester fly-half Freddie Burns will come the other way from Leicester to Bath where he started his career in the Academy.

Freddie Burns - a product of Bath's Academy - will return to the club. Credit: PA Images

26-year-old Burns has made more than 60 appearances for Leicester since arriving there after a seven-year stint at Gloucester.

He made his senior England debut in 2012 against New Zealand and was part of the national squad for tours to Argentina and New Zealand.

Burns said he was looking forward to representing his hometown club next season.

I'm really looking forward to joining Bath. The opportunity for me to represent my hometown club is one I have dreamt of from the day I started playing rugby."

"I am looking forward to working under Todd Blackadder and being part of a young and ambitious team to bring more success to the Club."

– Freddie Burns
Burns tackles Ford as Bath face Leicester. Credit: PA Images

Ford's return to the club where he made his first-team debut as a 16-year-old had been widely expected.

The fly-half had featured more than 40 times in Leicester colours before moving to Bath.

He helped Bath reach the 2014 European Challenge Cup final and Premiership final a year later, and is also firmly established in Eddie Jones' unbeaten England side.

Ford said he had enjoyed his time at Bath. Credit: PA Images

Ford said he was grateful for his time at Bath and had found it hard to leave:

This hasn't been an easy decision for me to make but I feel it is the best one for me at this time.

I've really enjoyed my time at Bath and have worked with some incredible players and coaches. I know I have developed hugely as a player because of that."

– George Ford, Bath fly-half
Freddie Burns said he was looking forward to representing his home-town club. Credit: PA Images

Bath's Director of Rugby Todd Blackadder said he was sad to be losing Ford but looking forward to working with Burns:

We are really excited to be working with Freddie next season. He is a fantastic player, who has really developed into an all-encompassing fly-half in the last couple of years.

We’ve now got two international fly-halves signed for next season in Freddie and Rhys Priestland, and I’ve no doubt that both will play a key role for us going forward.

We are naturally disappointed that George has decided to leave. He is a great player and I have enjoyed working with him, and know that he will give us his all until the end of the season. We have a great season ahead of us this year, and in 2017/18 and beyond.”

– Todd Blackadder, Bath Director of Rugby