Featherstone Rovers expect to make more new signings before the start of the season and their objectives remain the same despite their failure to gain promotion to Super League.
That’s the rallying cry from James Ford ahead of his first full season as Rovers head coach, after seeing the runaway League Leaders’ Shield winners knocked out in the play-off semi-finals by shock promotion winners London.
The setback to Featherstone’s ambitious plans to reach Super League before IMG’s new grading strategy comes into play saw many of their big names leave the club, but a new-look squad struck an encouraging pre-season blow by beating rivals Bradford Bulls on Sunday.
“Some players have moved on, we have been busy recruiting and we haven’t finished recruiting,” Ford told Love Rugby League as new captains Ben Reynolds and Danny Addy starred in the win over the Bulls, who themselves harbour Super League dreams.
“Everyone was disappointed (by 2023) but I think it’s important that we move past it now, put 2023 far behind us and focus on this season. We have a strong core and I do expect us to show a lot of promise.
“I am very confident that we are not finished here and we will continue to build. But we have to wait for the right player at the right time for the right amount of money, and the right person as well. History tells me that will happen, who that is yet I don’t know but we have to keep our options open.”
James Ford admits he has a point to prove after taking the reins at Featherstone Rovers: ‘I think I’ve had to do that all my life if I’m honest’
Ford admits he himself as a point to prove after leaving Wakefield Trinity to join Featherstone’s promotion push.
He worked alongside Sean Long, before the St Helens legend was sacked and Ford put in charge to try and finish the job.
“I think I’ve had to do that all my life if I’m honest,” said Ford.
“I was written off as a player and as a coach consistently. What other people think I’m not particularly interested in. I am confident in what I do and in these boys.
“Will there be some bumps in the road? Absolutely, but as a group we will stay together and as London showed us it is about getting it right at the right time of the year.
“We put 2023 behind us and the objective is just the same even if the strategy has to be very different.
“There is a lot of sustainability in this strategy and some exciting young players in this team. I feel that if we get it right as coaches we can take these players on a really exciting journey.
“In Thomas Lacans, Harry Bowes, Connor Wynne, Manoa Wacokecoke there is some really exciting talent in this team who are going to need some support from us and from our fans as well, but if we all get it right it could be a really exciting season.”