Leeds Carnegie have announced the signing of fly half Joe Ford, 21, on a two year contract from Heineken Cup finalists Northampton Saints.

Ford returns to Headingley Carnegie after a year at Franklin’s Gardens and says that he feels he is a better player from his time at Saints. The youngster, who turned 21 last weekend, commented, “I am really happy to be coming back to Leeds Carnegie. Whilst things have not gone to plan for me at Northampton, I would like to thank all the coaches, players and supporters at Northampton who have been. It has good for me to see a different environment and work with new coaches. However, I was happy at Leeds originally and I was really pleased when I found out that they wanted me back.”

Ford was in the crowd at Franklin’s Gardens on the final day of the Aviva Premiership as his former club were relegated on points difference. He commented, “It was a tough afternoon. Obviously as a Northampton player, I wanted us to win but all Leeds needed was a try to get the all important bonus point in the last minute and that would have been the dream result for me.”

The fly half admitted he is excited about working with his former mentor Diccon Edwards again, after he was appointed as the club’s new Head Coach last week. He added, “I am really excited to be working with Diccon again. When I agreed to sign with Leeds, I did not know who would be Head Coach but when I found out it was Diccon, that was a massive bonus for me. He is a brilliant coach and knows me very well.”

Despite only making five appearances in his season at Franklin’s Gardens, he says he is an improved player from the experience. He added, “I have put on some weight, which I needed to do, and I have taken apart my kicking game and done a lot of work with Dave Alred and Paul Grayson to improve that side of my game. I feel I am a better player and kicker and I have more experience now.

“The main thing for me now is about playing some rugby. I kept in touch with a lot of the Leeds boys so whilst I am rejoining the club with a new coaching team and some new faces, I still know a lot of people and they know me. Being part of successful team at Northampton has whetted my appetite for more success and hopefully we can do that at Leeds.

“I can’t wait to play in the Championship next year. It is getting tougher every year and playing away will be a big leveller. However, if we can come through that experience and get back in the Aviva Premiership we will be in a great position to build for the future,” added Ford.

Head Coach Diccon Edwards is equally happy with his first signing, he added, “I am very excited to be bringing Joe back to Leeds Carnegie. I was disappointed when he left a couple of seasons ago and it is pleasing to have him back. He will be instrumental in the way we play next season with his tactical awareness and excellent kicking game. He is an ambitious young English player, exactly the type of player that we will be looking to build our team around.”