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Ford focused on fitting in at Roosters

Ben Horne 01/02/2011 07:09:53 PM Comments (0)

The Sydney Roosters are preparing to unleash the world's biggest halfback on the NRL this season.

With Mitchell Pearce and Todd Carney likely to play representative football, and Carney injured for the opening to the season, coach Brian Smith needs to groom a back-up.

His plan is to squeeze 193cm, 104kg monster Johnothan Ford into a No.7 jersey.

The 21-year-old Cook Islands' representative has been one of the Roosters' most impressive trainers and will get an opportunity in the halves in the trials.

He's the second tallest at the club behind Jason Ryles and heavier than anyone else in the backline.

But incredibly Ford played matches at halfback for feeder club Newtown last year, and may be asked to crouch down and feed the scrum in the NRL if Pearce is selected in Origin as expected.

"I had a bit of a write-up with Newtown when I played halfback last year and they chased it up and said I was the world's biggest halfback," said Ford, who debuted with two matches at centre and fullback for the Roosters in the final rounds of last season.

"I enjoyed playing halfback. I'd been playing five-eighth all my life pretty much ... but it's not much different. It's more in the number and a bit more responsibility."

Retired star Trent Barrett was considered an oversized No.7 for St George Illawarra, and his dimensions are more than 10cm and 10kg less than Ford.

Smith said Ford and Anasta were pencilled into relieve Carney and Pearce during Origin, although a lot could change between now and May.

With Carney likely to miss one or two matches to start the season, Ford is in the running, however it's more likely Anasta will simply revert to five-eighth.

"Johno will be a contender for that ... he did a nice job for us last year when he got his chance," said Smith, who brought Newcastle-born Ford down with him from the Knights and has picked him at five-eighth for the trial against Ipswich.

"He's turned into the world's biggest halfback Johno. He's showing the benefits of a second pre-season and a feeling that he belongs in the club.

"The importance of pre-season for someone like him is massive. If he excels in pre-season games he might just show us that he's ready to have a crack at it."

Ford said he's relishing the chance he'll have in the trials to prove his worth in the traditionally small-man's position and declared he's ready to slot into the halves whenever needed this season.

"Yeah, 100 per cent, I'd put my hand up," he said.

"It's a good opportunity for myself to get out there and show what I've been training for."

Anthony Cherrington, who missed all of last season with injury, will play for the Roosters in the trial, as will Anthony Minichiello and new recruit Justin Carney.

Roosters squad for trial: Anthony Minichiello, Steve Naughton, Justin Carney, Willie Mataka, Joseph Leilua, Johnothan Ford, Riley Jacks, Mose Masoe, Byron Fruean, Daniel Conn, Anthony Cherrington, Tom Symonds, Tinirau Arona. Interchange: Rhys Pritchard, Mark Kheirallah, Tim Guymer, David Thomas, Asipeli Fine, Jack Littlejohn, Lama Tasi, Kurt Kara, Isaac Lui, Ethan Lowe, Dane Atkinson, Lou Goodwin.

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