Edinburgh Veteran Ford Enjoying Playing Upon Return From Injury

Ross Ford has been a feature of Edinburgh and Scottish Rugby for more than a decade and this week – upon his return from an injury which ruled him out of most of last season – he spoke about the World Cup, Alasdair Dickinson’s retirement and the changes that Richard Cockerill has installed at Edinburgh.

Ford in training for Edinburgh (Photo: Edinburgh Rugby)

Coming back from injury

Veteran hooker Ross Ford has returned to form this season, and despite the run out against Leinster last weekend not producing the desired outcome for the capital club, the front row said: “I’m quite enjoying being back and being involved with the boys training and playing.”

On Monday, he spoke about the injury which left him out of Edinburgh and Scotland selection contention for most of last season: “Aye – I tore my right pec and I got my left shoulder cleared out at the same time.”

Speaking about the challenge of getting into the team now that other players, such as Stuart McInally are playing “phenomenally well”, he said: “I think I’m just a bit older now, I’m quite laid-back. If I play well I’ll get picked, if not I’ll just have to play better.

“Credit to Rambo [McInally], he’s made it very difficult, so I just have to try to do everything I can that’s within my ability to see if I can get in front of him, but he’s making it very difficult and he’s played bloody well. It’s good to see.”

Ford also addressed the danger of falling into a trap of losing sight of the bigger picture, if you focus too much on your own personal development. He admitted: “I know what my strengths are, so I just try to be good in the set-piece, defensively all right and carry some ball when I get the chance. It’s not all about you, it’s about the team, so you just come on and do what you can within the system and try to make an impact.”

One thing which still gives Ford a slight boost when selected, is that throughout the years, he has remained a firm fan-favourite for both Edinburgh and Scotland: “Aye, it’s nice to have that and have the fans backing you. You enjoy it because it’s not there forever.”

Possibility of another World Cup campaign

Ford first began playing for Scotland at international level in 2004, and so, has been involved in three previous Rugby World Cup campaigns. So, when he was asked about the possibility of traveling to the tournament in Japan next year, the forward seemed relaxed in his response.

“I’d have a bash at four, we’ll see how it goes. There’s a lot of ground to be covered between now and then, so I’ll just go about my job and see what happens.”

He elaborated: “With the squad we’ve got, we’ve got every opportunity to do very well, so to be involved in that would be great. If it happens it happens, if not I’ve had a good kick at the ball.”

Dickinson’s retirement

It was announced this summer that Ford’s long-time scrummaging partner Alasdair Dickinson, would be retiring. Ford addressed the loss of Dickinson – who was capped 58 times for Scotland and 120 times for Edinburgh – from the game through injury, explaining he thought his fellow veteran seemed to be “laid-back” about the decision.

He admitted: “It is what it is and his new role, he’ll be good at that and he’ll still keep himself in good nick. He’s got a lot of knowledge to pass on to young props coming through.

“If they can learn anything from him it’s not to let size or anything hold you back, don’t let folk pigeon-hole you because when he was playing well he was probably one of the best looseheads in the world.

“At the end of his career he was destroying people for fun and getting the credit. So, it’s difficult, but I think he was quite happy with his decision in the end. He’d made peace with it, so that’s all you can ask for.”

Despite Dickinson’s departure from playing however, Ford doesn’t have any plans to bow out anytime in the near future, though he does accept that the very nature of the combative game begins to take its toll more on him now, than in his earlier playing days.

He said: “I feel young, and I’m still young, but week-in, week-out the pounding that you take is hard on your body, so I think that time off last year has allowed me to freshen up and realise I’m in the fortunate position that I get to play rugby.”

He was also quick to assure: “I’m still young, I’m only 34. I’ve got plenty time left in me, I’m enjoying myself, I’m still in good nick, so I’m quite happy to keep going and see what happens.”

Edinburgh’s development

It’s no secret that head coach Richard Cockerill has been putting the current Edinburgh squad through their paces in an effort to revitalise the team and make them true contenders in the league.

Considering how many years Ford has been playing for the capital outfit – 11 years, since 2007, to be exact – he would be able to recognise more than anyone how far the team has come. He acknowledged: “I think we’re probably the most rounded we’ve been since I’ve been here.

“Teams are a little bit more aware of us this year and showing us a bit more respect. We’ve got a lot of talented players in the squad, young talented players as well, and we’re in a good position to do something this year with the squad we’ve got.”

Ultimately, he thinks the arrival of the tough head coach has a lot to do with this evolution: “I think everyone believes in ourselves more than we did pre-Cockers.”

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