Ross Ford gets his career motoring again

Ross Ford hass been woking to improve
Ross Ford hass been woking to improve
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Ross Ford can today count himself the embodiment of that old chestnut “tough times don’t last but tough people do”.

When Scotland lost ten line-outs in their first two matches of this year’s Six Nations Championship hooker Ford, whose duties include throwing-in, paid a price with demotion to the bench.

At times he might even have questioned the switch as a teenager from the back row to the role in which he became the most capped Scot over the summer, surpassing the cap tally of Gordon Bulloch.

But Ford hung in and after injury saw him miss the start of Scotland’s tour he was back in situ for the concluding two matches, while Saturday’s 41-31 victory over Argentina as a springboard into this weekend’s meeting with New Zealand saw him look every inch the Lions choice he was in 2009.

At least in the dark days Ford could turn to someone who knows the slings and arrows of Test rugby at hooker; Jon Humphreys, Scotland’s forward coach, won 35 caps for Wales in the No.2 shirt.

“We were not just delighted with Ross, but a few of the other players as well,” said Humphreys who did, however, acknowledge it is always good to see someone come out of a tunnel.

“It’s nice to see Fordy playing in the manner he can, and being as effective as he can be but, helped, too, by a lot of other good performances.

“Hooker is a very lonely place. It is about confidence and feeling comfortable with yourself.

“There is not an international player in the world who doesn’t have extreme lows and some pretty big highs. It is how you deal with that.

“People talk about experience and that is about going through these things and coming out the other end. That’s what gives you strength.

“Special credit (for the line-out) must got to Jonny Gray. For a first start at home calling line outs he did very well.

“The pair of them (Ford and the younger Gray sibling) did a lot of work behind the scenes.

“We are quite happy with the quality of the line-out but we are coming up against probably the best line-out defence in the world. New Zealand are exceptional in this area.”

Has Ford felt lonely?

“Sometimes,” he admitted, adding: “You are there to hit the jumpers and if you are not doing it sometimes it is not your fault, sometimes it is.

“There are five parts of the line-out – the throw, the lift, the jump, movement on the group and catching at the end. There’s a lot of things involved.

“You have to get on with it, go away and work it out and do things slightly differently. That is in the past now.

“I got my hands on the ball a couple of times and the set piece went well. Everybody involved played to a really high standard, but New Zealand on Saturday are the best team in the world and rightly so.

“We are under no illusions that there are things we can tidy up and get better.”

And how aware is Ford that if Scotland succeed they will – truly – be making sporting history having come up short on 29 previous occasions against New Zealand?

“We have a bit of momentum on the back of beating Argentina but there’s no point hyping things up and talking about great things just now. We’ve got to do it on the pitch.”