Scotland’s most capped player Ross Ford has set his sights on a fourth World Cup – but he knows he first has to hit the heights with Edinburgh.
The hooker had a tough time of it during the 2017-18 season. The 34-year-old made his 110th international appearance in the loss to Fiji last summer and then began the season with Edinburgh under new coach Richard Cockerill. But last November he was injured while training with Scotland, suffering a pectoral issue on his right side and then deciding to get a left shoulder problem sorted out as well during his rehab.
He returned to action in March, playing a couple of times with Melrose as part of the pro draft, and then missed Scotland’s summer tour so that he could get a full pre- season under his belt.
With the emergence of Stuart McInally as first-choice No 2 with club and county during Ford’s lay-off the veteran has had to bide his time, but he started for Edinburgh in the defeat by Leinster at the weekend in the Guinness Pro14.
And with a burning desire to help the capital side reach the end of season league play-offs again and do well on their return to the Heineken Champions Cup, Ford is as focused as ever. In fact, with the possibility of adding the 2019 World Cup in Japan to his list of showpiece event appearances from 2007, 2011 and 2015 he is perhaps even more determined than ever.
“I’d definitely want to have a bash at a fourth World Cup, we’ll see how it goes. There’s a lot of ground to be covered between now and then, so I’ll just go about my job and see what happens,” said Ford, pictured.
“It was a long season last season and, obviously, Stuart has come on and is playing phenomenally well, so my role’s been limited with Edinburgh. It was nice to get a run out at the weekend at Leinster and play a bit rugby, I enjoyed it.
“The result wasn’t what we wanted [Edinburgh lost 31-7], but I’m quite enjoying being back and being involved with the boys and training and playing.
“I definitely think the break last year helped me, though.
“I feel young and I’m still young, but week in, week out the pounding that you take is hard on your body, so I think that time off last year has allowed me to freshen up and realise I’m in the fortunate position that I get to play rugby.”
With prop Al Dickinson having been forced to retire in the summer, Ford is the most experienced member of the Edinburgh squad now. Ahead of Friday’s home match with Benetton, he feels that the club is in the best place it has ever been since he arrived.
“I think we’re probably the most rounded we’ve been since I’ve been here,” he explained. “Teams are a little bit more aware of us this year and are showing us a bit more respect.
“We’ve got a lot of talented players in the squad and we’re in a good position to do something this year.”