Featherstone Rovers champions but there’s still ‘heaps wrong’: ‘Miserable’ James Ford demands more in order to win promotion

George Riley
James Ford, Featherstone Rovers

Featherstone Rovers head coach James Ford - Alamy

Promotion favourites Featherstone Rovers continue to under-perform but are united in their desire to step up to Super League for the first time.

That’s the view of head coach James Ford after his side clinched the League Leaders’ Shield with a gritty 16-8 victory at fellow promotion hopefuls Bradford.

Ford has won every game since the controversial sacking last month of head coach Sean Long, who had guided Rovers to an eight-point lead at the top of the Championship before his dismissal.

The coaching change was made after the club felt they had failed to compete well in each of their games against other sides in the top six, and Ford feels that although he has seen some improvement the side remains way off the quality needed to win next month’s Grand Final.

“There was heaps wrong with that performance,” Ford told Love Rugby League, after seeing his side secure home advantage in the playoffs.

“Congratulations to the players, they are the champions of the league with four games to go so I hope the supporters enjoy the victory and enjoy us being league champions.

“But as for that performance I don’t think we dealt well with the (narrow) field. We came up with some loose decisions and some poor execution of skill.

“I’m a naturally miserable bloke but what is exciting is that every single bloke is on board with chasing improvements. I know they are better players than that. We have to go after those improvement areas for the playoffs, the quality of the squad here is so high.”

James Ford pays tribute to Featherstone Rovers supporters

Rovers have never been promoted to Super League, losing to Batley in last year’s semi-final and Toulouse in the Grand Final the previous year. With sports management company IMG introducing new grading structures from 2024 that sees an end to traditional promotion and relegation, clubs like Featherstone know this year may provide their best ever opportunity to enter rugby league’s elite.

And Ford feels the Featherstone fans have a huge part to play in getting the team over the line.

“Fev fans are great, they never shut up and are never not behind the team,” he said.

“I know full well that helps players find extra energy and turn big moments in games.

“We are the league champions and the fans have played a massive part in that all season.”

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