ETHAN FORD has not ruled out returning to Plymouth Albion in the future after revealing he will be leaving the club at the end of this month.
The 24-year-old back will miss Albion’s final five fixtures of the season so he can fly home to Australia with his pregnant wife.
The plan had been for Ford to stay for the full 2015/16 campaign and possibly even longer, but as he put it ‘circumstances have changed’.
Ford is over the moon at the thought of becoming a father, but is disappointed he won’t get to finish the season at Albion, especially with the club in such a good position in the league.
However, he and his wife want to have their baby surrounded by family in Australia.
“She can’t fly after a certain stage of her pregnancy and unfortunately that’s the end of March,” said Ford.
“It’s definitely disappointing as I’ve made a lot of good friends. It would have been good to have stayed around and finished the season with them, but family is obviously priority.”
He added: “I have definitely enjoyed it here. It’s been a great opportunity for myself and my wife to come over here and live in a different country and play rugby for a good club.
“The last few months with us being on a winning streak has been really enjoyable.”
Ford, who has featured in all-but one of Albion’s 24 league games this season, scoring seven tries, moved to Plymouth in the summer from Sydney-based club Randwick.
“We were opened minded when we came over here,” he said. “We were just going to see how it went for a year, but obviously circumstances have changed.
“We’re happy with the decision we’ve made (to go back) as it is a lot better for us to be around family when the baby comes.
“But there’s obviously always an opportunity to come back in the future. That’s definitely not off the table.
“The last few months for us here, both on and off the field, have been really good for us. We’ve been very happy.
“It’s only the weather I haven’t got used it, but the rest of it has been really good.”
Ford is confident Albion can continue their form even without him.
They currently sit fifth in the table but are only three points behind second-played Hartpury College and one point off third-placed Blackheath, who they will play in their next match on March 19.
“The boys have been playing well and I think we have the squad to push on,” said Ford. “It is not just the 20 guys who have been playing every week, but there are also other guys who have the talent to do it as well.
“I think we have a really good chance in the league.”
Ford will be available for the Blackheath game, providing he recovers from an ankle injury he picked up against Darlington Mowden Park on Saturday.
“I’m pretty confident I can get it sorted out,” said Ford. “Hopefully, with this weekend off I can have a bit of a rest and be right for that game.”
Even when he does return to Australia, Ford says he will be following Albion’s progress.
“Definitely,” he said. “I think I will be talking to the boys every week. We have group chat on our phones, so I would say we will be talking quite often.”
Albion’s director of rugby Graham Dawe said: “Ethan put in a request to go back to Australia before the end of the season and we have agreed to release him early.
“It is with a heavy heart that we do so because he is an important player for us, but we understand his reasons.
“It will be sad to see him go. He has been a real leader in a relatively young side, bringing shape and direction. He has also been a strong voice in the changing room.
“We do thank him for his efforts this season and we wish him and his wife all the best.
“He will be a hard player to replace, but, hopefully, someone can come in and deliver.”
Albion will play in a specially-designed one-off shirt for the Blackheath match, which Ford has been modelling.
The shirts, which will have players’ names and numbers on, will be auctioned off after the match to try and raise money for the Albion Links community and schools programme and St Luke’s Hospice.