GERRINGONG'S Jackson Ford after what he labelled a disappointing 2020 NRL campaign, is leaving no stone unturned during St George Illawarra Dragons' 2021 pre-season.
Although the Group Seven product made 12 appearances for the Red V this season, he wasn't happy how he performed during the COVID-19 affected campaign.
"Understandably, 2020 was a tough year for everyone but I wasn't happy with the way I played at all," Ford said.
"Not being in the 17 each week was extremely tough, especially with no NSW Cup to find some form in.
"If you weren't in the 17, all you were doing was training, which was quite tough at times.
"It definitely played on your mind, as pretty much all we were allowed to do in the bubble was footy and home - there were no ways to escape it and clear the mind.
"Then on top of that, my suspension [against the Roosters] didn't help - I really felt like I let the club down there.
"As disappointing as it was, it was a big learning experience for myself, as it highlighted how lucky I am to play the game of rugby league as a profession.
"It also made me think about life after footy, which I'm currently doing my carpentry licence, which is something I'd be interested in pursuing after footy."
"During the first three weeks of pre-season, there's been plenty of long-distance running, which is an aspect we haven't done much of in the past," the Kiama High School alumnus said.
"Everyone is ripping in and trying to impress the new coaching staff, who have all been really encouraging.
"We haven't done too much any game style aspects yet, rather getting our bodies right for the big season ahead - which in my case, is putting weight on.
"I'm up to 101kg, which is big for me because I find it really hard to put weight on.
"Hook [Griffin] wants to me get up to 102kg by the start of the season, so he's been on me to continue to have my protein shakes when I can.
"I'll also be sure to hook into the Christmas ham, to help me reach my goal."
This weight goal is all to help Ford potentially fill the vacated back-row jersey left by Newcastle-bound Tyson Frizell.
"While I played a bit of everywhere this season, my goal is to play in the back-row next season and try and claim the vacant starting edge jersey," he said.
"Frizz is one of the best in the business and taught me plenty during his time at the club - it's now all about me putting my best foot forward and proving my worth to the team."
The Red V will have three more weeks, including this one, of pre-season ahead of Christmas, before restarting on Monday, January 4.
"Other goals for me during the pre-season is working on my defence and making sure I don't miss tackles," he said.
"I'm going to knuckle down on my technique, to ensure I don't let anyone passed.
"Doing that will help out the players inside and outside of me, including the halves - who I will be working a lot with over the next few months."
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