NRL Rd 1 - Warriors v Knights
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 03: Jackson Ford of the Warriors charges forward during the round one NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and Newcastle Knights at Sky Stadium on March 03, 2023 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Jackson Ford has twice this season been deployed by his coach Andrew Webster for the full 80 minutes in the back row; both times have resulted in New Zealand Warriors victories.

Second rowers playing 80 minutes is hardly surprising in the modern game, but it is more impressive considering Ford's spent much of his time at the Dragons coming off the bench.

Across the last two seasons, Ford only managed 16 appearances due to a combination of injury and being out of coach Anthony Griffin's plans.

Now he looks like a different player, and his efforts on the field aren't going unnoticed, as his big-minute performances only improve as time passes.

Webster spoke to the press following his side's 16-14 victory over the Canterbury Bulldogs on Sunday and touched on how good of a signing ford had been so far.

"Literally the fittest guy at the club. Competes on everything," Webster said.

"The longer and harder [a game] gets, the better Jacko gets.

"He's not an impact player, you can't play him like that. You've got to stick him out there like a draught horse and just let him work hard the whole time."

This philosophy was made particularly clear by Ford as his defensive display late into the tight contest was the strongest in his side, making 41 tackles and only missing one.

That's the sort of effort that pushes your teammates to rally and defend better themselves, and Ford thinks it's all thanks to his new coach and a change of position.

"I had mostly been coming off the bench and playing middle... I can probably do it, but I sort of think it maybe wasn't my role," Ford told

"Now Webby has moved me to the back row, a position I enjoy, and I have been really enjoying my footy and playing more minutes.

"I feel like when the game gets going a bit faster, my fitness comes in and I tend to look for more carries.

"When the boys get tired I try and be the one that stands up."

The Warriors will be looking to continue their good start to the season when they come up against the Cronulla Sharks this Sunday at 4:05 PM AEST.