“We thought he wouldn’t play again” – head coach James Ford feared worst for Featherstone Rovers stalwart Josh Hardcastle after stroke

FEATHERSTONE ROVERS head coach James Ford has admitted that he and the club thought Josh Hardcastle would not play rugby league again after suffering a stroke last year.

Hardcastle suffered a stroke whilst at home last July with the 31-year-old, collapsing in his bathroom and subsequently spending four days at Pinderfields Hospital.

It was a long road to recovery with the centre signing a new one-year deal with Rovers late last year with Hardcastle taking to the field for Rovers more determined than ever in 2024.

That was epitomised by his rugged display in Featherstone’s 14-10 Golden Point win over Wakefield Trinity at the weekend – the 150th game of Hardcastle’s career – and Rovers boss Ford paid tribute to the 31-year-old.

“One stand out for me was Josh Hardcastle,” Ford told League Express.

“On his 150th appearance, coming back from what he came back from, to turn up and make that many tough carries and little ruck wins here and there to relieve the pressure, probably goes unnoticed by a lot of people but not by us as a group.

“I value him so much and I hope his family are really proud of his efforts.”

Ford emphasised the magnitude of Hardcastle’s experience last year.

“He had a serious leg injury and then the guy suffered a stroke – it’s as serious as it can be.

“There was a long period where we thought he wouldn’t play again and he probably thought he wouldn’t play again.

“And to go from that to fighting his way back into the team and to play like that, just shows what a tough bloke he is.”

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