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Knights ace James Ford joins first-team coaching staff
JAMES FORD is to join York City Knights’ first-team coaching set-up following his success with the under-20s – and he will be joined by a new-look conditioning team.
It has long been mooted that Ford, who turned 31 a fortnight ago, would assist boss Gary Thornton next season while also continuing to play, but the boot-room set-up has only now been confirmed.
He will be joined by two new conditioners in Jamie Carruthers, who has experience in Super League, the NRL and NFL and with Olympic cycling, weightlifting and sprinting as a leading sports science nutritionist, and in Jamie Bell, who is likewise a tutor at Wakefield College, where Ford also works.
Carruthers is to be the club’s head of sports science and Bell is the new head of strength and conditioning. Jay Salter stays on as a conditioner, assisting with the first team and looking after the U20s.
Club stalwart Mick Ramsden will remain as a first-team assistant coach and take on Ford’s U20s head coach role when their season starts in the spring.
The club remain hopeful former boss Mick Cook, who assisted with the U20s this year, will also stay at Huntington Stadium in some capacity.
Former Castleford and Sheffield centre Ford has been coupling playing duties as Knights captain with coaching the young guns, taking them to the U20s Championship play-offs – a highlight for the club in a relegation Kingstone Press Championship campaign.
He said: “I’m excited to start working with the first team and to take some of the ideas I’ve used with the U20s and assist Gary the best I can.
“The players seem pretty keen for me to have this role, which is pleasing.
“As a group we’re setting our standards pretty high next season. We want to finish as high as we can – to finish top – and change some people’s opinions of us (after relegation). We have underachieved for a couple of years. The squad is young but they will mature and, if they get the right development and assistance, they will mature into a good team – tough, physical but with a lot skill.”
Ford expects a number of U20s regulars to push for greater first-team recognition next year, including the likes of Greg Minikin, both Dent brothers, diminutive hooker Harry Carter and half-back James Morland.
“The ball is in their court,” he said. “They will be getting ample support, strength-wise, conditioning-wise and skill-wise. Everyone will start on an equal footing. Age is only a number and, if they train well and play well, I’m sure Gary and myself would be keen as mustard to put young guys in.
“It’s good to have young, enthusiastic, talented players in the first-team squad pushing the older guys like myself, Iain Morrison and Jack Lee. It creates a good environment.”
Ford, meanwhile, is currently recovering from an ankle operation, having put off surgery throughout last season, in which he played only 13 of 30 matches. He hopes to be in training by December.
He explained: “It had hampered my mobility – a lot of movement was restricted – and it maybe contributed to other injuries, but I was trying to play out the season to help the team.”
Boss Thornton backed Ford’s progression into coaching.
“He’s done really well with the U20s and many of next year’s squad will be coming from those ranks so he will have coached them this year,” he said.
“My intention when I first arrived at York (a year ago) was always to have two assistants but Mick Cook took a step aside so we ran with just myself and Rammo this year. With James coming in it probably means I can take a step back from the day-to-day on-field stuff and do more analysis, one-on-one feedback and overseeing things more.
“James brings good experience. He’s played at good clubs under good coaches. We’ve worked quite closely this year and I think he will relish it. He’s a good coach, he knows what he’s doing and is a good communicator. I’m sure he will be of massive benefit.”
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