Burns versus Ford in understudies battle

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Freddie Burns has been hailed for his “great consistency” this season as he prepares to face England rival George Ford in an intriguing individual battle this afternoon.

Burns, Ford and in-form Sale Sharks star Danny Cipriani are all jostling for position behind England fly-half incumbent Owen Farrell, with the autumn Test opener against world champions New Zealand at Twickenham just seven weeks away.

Ford and Burns have already amassed 64 Premiership points between them this term, with both players set to be key components when Bath and Leicester protect 100 per cent league records at the Recreation Ground.

And Burns’s Tigers half-back partner – England colleague Ben Youngs – has no doubt the former Gloucester playmaker, who starred in England’s 20-15 first Test loss to the All Blacks just over three months ago, is off and running with his new club.

“I think he’s started very quickly,” said Youngs.

“Freddie has got this great attitude to training and the work he’s doing week in, week out.

“He has had two really good games back to back, and long may it continue. The most important thing for Freddie has always been consistency and he has shown great consistency so far.

“We all know he is viewed as a bit of a maverick, and we don’t want that to go because that is what makes him unique.

Harlequins return to the Twickenham Stoop this weekend, eight days after they were crushed 39-0 by Saracens on home soil.

Quins host Wasps and lock George Robson said: “If we want to finish in those top four spots then we can’t perform that way, and everyone knows it.

Saracens visit London Irish, while London Welsh, having conceded 14 tries and more than 100 points in their opening two Premiership games, face a testing away appointment with Sale, who will be without injured Scotland international lock Nathan Hines.