Ford fitness remains in balance
7:34pm Wednesday 21st May 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Bath and England remained silent on Wednesday night amid reports fly-half George Ford will miss the summer tour to New Zealand because of shoulder surgery.
It is thought Ford will undergo an operation on the joint after Friday night's Amlin Challenge Cup final against Northampton, preventing him from participating in the first Test on June 7.
Ford stated at Wednesday night's Rugby Players Association awards dinner he will start the Cardiff Arms Park showdown, adding "I'm probably the fittest I've ever felt".
"I'm fit and ready to go. I feel really good at the minute," young player of the year nominee Ford said.
"I've had 25-26 games under my belt this season and I'm probably the fittest I've ever felt. All the boys are fit and ready to go."
A Bath spokesperson insisted there will be no update on Ford until after Friday night's final.
Ford had been earmarked to start the first Test against the All Blacks as Owen Farrell and Stephen Myler are appearing in the Aviva Premiership final between Saracens and Northampton on May 31.
The 21-year-old's possible absence from the tour to New Zealand means England's plans could continue to unravel.
Already missing their Premiership finalists for the Eden Park opener, they must now face the prospect of meeting the All Blacks with either Danny Cipriani, Freddie Burns or Billy Twelvetrees at fly-half.
Each option has its drawbacks - Cipriani has just been reintroduced into England's squad following a six-year absence, Burns' form this season has been dismal and Twelvetrees is carrying an ankle injury and has yet to play in the number 10 jersey at Test level.
Cipriani is the most likely selection if Ford is ruled out, with Farrell taking over for the second and third Tests.
It would also be a blow for head coach Stuart Lancaster, who was hoping to give Ford greater Test exposure with the 2015 World Cup looming.