James Ford insists Featherstone Rovers are not under pressure as he reflects on Wakefield Trinity stay

James Ford has baulked at the suggestion that Featherstone Rovers are under pressure ahead of Sunday's play-off semi-final against London Broncos.

The League Leaders' Shield winners finished the regular season 12 points clear at the top of the Championship after winning 25 of their 27 fixtures.

Featherstone are widely expected to book a Grand Final place by seeing off London but have been here before in their Super League pursuit.

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Rovers suffered a shock home defeat to Batley Bulldogs in last year's semi-final, while they also lost the previous two Million Pound Games.

Ford is not looking back as he prepares Featherstone for the biggest game of their season.

"We've not talked about previous failures," said Ford, who took over from Sean Long as head coach in August.

"We've just spoken about dealing with adversity – refereeing decisions that don't go our way, the bounce of the ball or an outstanding play from London – and how we manage those tricky periods.

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"I've not thought about previous play-off performances. I don't think we're under pressure at all."

James Ford joined Featherstone midway through this year. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)James Ford joined Featherstone midway through this year. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)
James Ford joined Featherstone midway through this year. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)

London finished 11th last year but are a team transformed under Mike Eccles.

The Broncos ended the regular season fifth thanks to six wins in seven games before hammering Sheffield Eagles 42-0 in the first round of the play-offs.

"They've been really strong in the second half of the season," said Ford.

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"They've got loads of physicality in the middle and pace on the edges with cracking halves. They're a good team and Mike has done a great job there.

Featherstone finished top by a distance. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)Featherstone finished top by a distance. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)
Featherstone finished top by a distance. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)

"But we're ready to play anybody. Whether it was York, London or Sheffield, we just know we've got to get our job done.

"We've got an abundance of good players here at Featherstone and if we play well, we feel we should be in with a shot of progressing to the final."

Ford is chasing a swift return to Super League after leaving his role as an assistant coach at Wakefield Trinity to join Featherstone in May.

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The 41-year-old linked back up with Mark Applegarth following stints together at Wakefield College and York Knights but lasted just seven months on his coaching staff.

"It's been a really challenging 18 months but what doesn't kill you makes you stronger," said Ford.

"I feel like I've learnt from all three places I've worked at in the last 18 months. Long term, it'll only benefit me.

"I think it was the right time to leave York but I won't go into that. I felt like I could help Mark but that relationship obviously wasn't as strong as I thought. Good luck to him in the future.

"I'm really enjoying the challenge here. There are lots of challenges around this place and every day is different."

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