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Ford believes promotion still realistic for 'Stoke
BASINGSTOKE back rower Will Ford believes that the side may end up benefitting from their mixed start to the season.
A string of impressive wins have been interspersed with disappointing defeats to London One South promotion rivals Chichester and East Grinstead, leaving them needing an incredible run to finish in the top two.
It seems likely that ’Stoke will have to win all of their remaining fixtures to stand any chance of earning promotion at the end of the season – but Ford believes this is possible and insists that the early defeats have improved team spirit.
“We will probably need to win all of our remaining games but I think that all of us are confident that we are capable of going and doing that,” he said. “In the past few weeks our bond as a squad has improved as we have gone through all of the ups and downs and I feel we are better for it.
“It is very early in the season and there is a lot of rugby to be played so it will be quite interesting to see how everyone goes after Christmas.
“It’s going to be tough but there is a good feeling at the club. None of us wants to back down but when it comes down to it we know we have worked hard and will back ourselves all the way.
“It has been a bit of an up and down start to the season but we all realise we are a developing team and our whole ethos is based on improving game by game. When it comes to crunch time that development will show and as a team we all believe we can get into the top two, if not win the league.”
One of Ford’s main causes for optimism is the competition for places that now exists within the Basingstoke squad.
In seasons gone by, the loss of two or three first team players would have had a massive effect on the side. Now there are two or three players challenging for every position in the side, keeping the man in possession of the shirt well and truly on his toes.
Ford would seem to be a member of a fairly settled back row, regularly playing at No 8 alongside flankers Steve Hicks and Matt Horne. It seems like these three are assured of their places in the team – but Ford insists this is not the case.
“The other back row players like Ryan Davis and Chris Kiernan are right on our tails,” he said. “Ryan has been really impressive coming off the bench and I like the situation we have got in the back row.
“The new substitution rules mean it is almost a four man rather than a three man back row now and it is good to know that we have someone like Ryan available to make a big impact.
“The big thing this year is depth. There are a lot of good players vying for those 15 shirts and we just have to play the way we know we can.
“The competition is massive now in the backs. It’s really getting quite fierce, with the boys knowing they have to play well to hold on to their shirts, which can only be a good thing.”
One player who has forced his way into the Basingstoke side is fly-half Adam Davies, who has made a really impressive start to his career at Down Grange.
“Adam has great ability on the ball and always seems to have a lot of time,” Ford added. “He does well to organise the forwards and creates opportunities, both for himself and others. I am delighted that he found his way here.”