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Leeds coach Neil Back saddened by Joe Ford exit

Joe Ford
Fly-half Ford is the son of England coach Mike Ford

Leeds head coach Neil Back says he is disappointed that fly-half Joe Ford has decided to join Northampton.

Ford, 19, will move to the Saints at the end of the season after rejecting a new contract at Headingley.

"It's disappointing. We offered Joe the opportunity to continue his development here," Back told BBC Radio Leeds.

"You can understand a player, who has come through an excellent system here, wants to join a top club. We're sad to see him go but we wish him well."

After graduating through the Leeds academy, Ford has become the club's second choice fly-half behind Ceiron Thomas.

Ford, whose younger brother George plays for Leicester Tigers, is the son of England coach Mike Ford.

He now joins Leeds' team-mate Calum Clark in making the move to Franklin's Gardens in the summer.

"Joe is at a stage of his career where he need to play games," added Back. "If he will get that at Northampton, well we'll have to wait and see won't we?

"Where Northampton are we are not at the moment. They have a strong squad and are looking to add young talent to that, which they've done with Calum Clark and Joe Ford.

"In one way it is a complement to Leeds that we continue to produce young talent. At the moment it is being cherry-picked, but in the future we aim to be one of those top clubs.

"If we achieve our objectives this season and stay up then we'll be in a position in the future where we will be adding to our squad rather than having players taken away.

"We would then be challenging for a top-six finish next season, which will then see more young talents remain here and more quality players join us."

Back also dismissed reports linking Northampton's 19-year-old fly-half Christian Lewis-Pratt with a move to Leeds.

"If you give me a million pounds to tell you who Lewis-Pratt is then I wouldn't be able to tell you. I don't know about it if that is happening," stated Back.

Meanwhile, centre Scott Barrow has been ruled out of Sunday's trip to London Irish and the following weekend's visit of Worcester with a damaged shoulder joint.



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