'Can the club come again? Absolutely': James Ford backs Featherstone Rovers to recover from latest crushing blow

A defiant James Ford insists Featherstone Rovers will come again in their pursuit of Super League rugby after another failed promotion bid.

Rovers have found themselves on the outside looking in during the summer era despite their best efforts.

Featherstone have invested heavily in recent years but a top-flight place continues to elude the West Yorkshire club.

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The League Leaders' Shield winners finished 12 points clear at the top of the Championship, only to crumble once again in the biggest game of their season.

The 36-26 semi-final defeat by London Broncos on home soil follows a shock loss to Batley Bulldogs at the same stage last year and double Grand Final frustration.

Rovers have fluffed their last chance to achieve automatic promotion ahead of the introduction of a new grading system but Ford expects the club to remain ambitious.

"There are lots of positives about this club," he said.

"It's a traditional rugby league town and you can see how much it means to everybody. It's in everybody's blood in this area.

James Ford has backed Featherstone to bounce back. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)James Ford has backed Featherstone to bounce back. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)
James Ford has backed Featherstone to bounce back. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)
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"Can the club come again? Absolutely. We might need to come at it a different way.

"At the minute, I'm just really disappointed for everybody associated with the club – players, supporters, the owner, board and sponsors.

"They've put so much time and effort in so for us not to be able to get it done, I'm gutted for them.

"The club will have plenty of meetings to redesign the strategy and go from there."

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Featherstone hammered London twice during the regular season but faced a different beast in the play-offs.

The Broncos took control early and scored 24 unanswered points after Rovers pulled level at 12-12 to set up a trip to Toulouse Olympique for Sunday's Grand Final.

"We didn't play very well," added Ford. "We gave away a load of preventable penalties on play five, dropped the ball cold, knocked on at the play the ball.

"We tossed up probably our worst performance for a long time. It's really disappointing because we're a good team with good players.

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"We've picked completely the wrong time for what was an absolutely below-par performance and London played really well. If you don't play well, you get beat.

"We've only got ourselves to blame because we weren't good enough. Congratulations to London."

Ford left Wakefield Trinity to join Rovers as director of rugby midway through the year before taking over from sacked head coach Sean Long in August.

The former York Knights boss wants to be the man to spearhead Featherstone's next promotion bid in 2024.

"I do but it won't be up to me whether I get that opportunity," said Ford.

"I knew what I was getting into when I came to Featherstone. I'll speak to the relevant people and we'll go from there."

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