Leeds Carnegie’s head coach and ex-England legend Neil Back has spoken to The Rugby Blog of his disappointment following the exit of 19 year old fly half, Joe Ford.
Following the announcement by Northampton Saints that Ford is due to be playing his rugby at Franklin’s Gardens from next season, Back seemed concerned that he might not be able to make the most of his increasing talent. After coming through the ranks of the Leeds Carnegie academy, Ford burst into senior rugby with a man-of-the-match performance against Leicester in the LV= Cup last November. He has continued to show further increased assurance most recently in Leeds’ win against Saracens.
Back confessed, “It is disappointing. For Joe in particular, he’s broken into the first team squad, he’s challenging for the number ten shirt and he was getting the game time I believe he needs to develop his game. One would question, is he going to get that at Northampton behind Myler and Geraghty? Only time will tell.”
Leeds sit eleventh in the Guinness Premiership with two remaining away games and a home fixture against relegation rivals Worcester left to play. Despite being confident that the club have what it takes to stay up, Back is realistic about the pull of the more successful teams.
“You can see the draw, good players want to play consistently in the Premiership. Northampton are on the up, they’ve got a good coaching and management team, good squads and strength in depth. Undoubtedly he’ll learn but my concern is will he get the game time he needs at this point in his career?”
Leeds face London Irish at the Madesjki stadium this weekend and you can hear the full Neil Back interview and match previews exclusively on the Rugby Blog Podcast, published online and via iTunes this Thursday 15th April.