James Ford gives first interview after being chosen as the man to guide Featherstone Rovers to Super League

George Riley
James Ford

James Ford has replaced Sean Long in the Featherstone hot seat - Alamy

New Featherstone Rovers boss James Ford says the Championship leaders will achieve their Super League dream if the team and fans unite following Sean Long’s sacking.

Rovers made the shock decision to part company with Great Britain legend Long 11 days ago, despite sitting top of the league by eight points.

Chief executive Martin Vickers this week wrote an open letter to fans explaining the decision, stating: ‘Our mixed track record against our closest rivals has highlighted the need to step up our performance standards’.

One of those rivals provide the opposition tonight when Featherstone head to Sheffield Eagles in Ford’s first game in charge. And, in his first interview since succeeding Long, the new boss says he will thrive under the pressure of delivering that elusive promotion to Super League.

James Ford: ‘We can get Featherstone in Super League’

“I wouldn’t have taken this on if I didn’t think I could do it” Ford told Love Rugby League.

“I’m fully aware of the expectation in and around this place and have had some tough times throughout my coaching career.

“I’m confident that with the support of the playing group and the quality of it, we can get Featherstone in Super League.”

Ford gave an extended interview to the club’s in-house channel FRTV this week, in which he moved to make clear there was no hard feelings with Long who had led the team to the top of the table.

“Everybody at the club has a great affinity for Sean and there are some very positive relationships that he’s built” said Ford of the former Rovers head coach, already in place as the new assistant manager at relegation-threatened Wakefield Trinity.

“I think I can speak for everybody by saying that we wish him all the best at Wakefield and I’m sure that him and (Wakefield head coach) Mark Applegarth will compliment one another really well, and they’ll have a really positive end to the season.”

Fev clear favourites for promotion in 2023

Rovers were tipped for promotion last season but were knocked out by Batley Bulldogs in the playoff semi-finals as Leigh Centurions, now known as Leopards, powered to Super League.

This year, Featherstone have again led throughout, with Ford adamant that no stone will be left unturned to see the job through.

“We have probably got the best Featherstone squad that the club has ever had, and they are doing a lot of things right. There are one or two areas to fine-tune and it is my job to find those areas and help this club get promoted.

“That could sound a lot of pressure, but I’m in no different position from any other Featherstone coach. You are here to win and play a nice brand of footy. There’s no pressure on me any more than anyone else who has been in this post.”

READ NEXT: Featherstone Rovers star promises fans ‘best version of ourselves’ after surprise Sean Long sacking