THE pressure is all on them and we’re going to enjoy it. That was the view of Nic Caldwell, the manager of the York Select XIII that take on York City Knights in tomorrow’s charity challenge.
Six of the Select side have past experience in the Knights’ first team and several others have played for their reserves, so Caldwell reckons many of his charges will be keen to prove a point to the pros. But he has told his team to simply enjoy the occasion and, given they have nothing to lose, to “put on a show”.
“The pressure is on them. As Gary Thornton (Knights coach) said in The Press the other day, they’re in a no-win situation. We are in a no-lose situation,” said Caldwell.
“We’re out of season, we’re amateurs, we’ve got together from different clubs, we’re not expected to win. In that sense, we can’t lose. We’re there to enjoy it.”
This fixture is the first time a representative team from the city’s amateur ranks have taken on the Knights since 2010. Three previous clashes brought one draw and win apiece – the Knights’ victory coming thanks to two late tries. In the pros’ mitigation they have generally fielded less than full strength sides and were ring-rusty while the amateurs were in mid-campaign in the old winter season.
Caldwell has already said fitness could be a factor with the amateurs not yet in training for their 2013 campaign while the Knights have been at it for eight weeks, but, asked if he thought this game would also be close, he replied: “I’d like to think so.
“There are a lot of lads in the Select team who could play at Championships level. Skill-wise we won’t be lacking, and certainly not desire-wise.”
As for his half-dozen ex-Knights, he added: “They’ll want to prove a point in front of the York fans and for their own selves. They’ll want to show they could still perform at that level.
“Our main aim is to put on a show whether we lose heavily or whatever. We want to entertain the crowd.”
The two biggest names in the Select ranks – Craig Farrell, the ex-York, Dewsbury, Batley and Hull KR star, and York Acorn ARLC product Jonny Liddell, the former Leeds junior who played 12 times for York Wasps and 77 for the Knights – will both start.
Farrell will be in the centres and utility ace Liddell at hooker.
The latter, now living in Lancashire, hasn’t played since leaving Acorn at the end of 2010/11, but Caldwell said: “We’ve got several options who can go in at hooker, but he looked okay in training. He’s an experienced player so knows what to do.
“With unlimited interchanges, we’re going to swap the forwards a lot and keep them fresh. It will be a heavy pitch and the fresher we keep the forwards the better.
“With Faz, it was more of a necessity to put him at centre. We needed a bit of strength out there. We’ve got Leigh Rientoul and Mike Welsh who have pace and we probably needed to front up a bit in the threequarters.”
Other ex-Knights are winger Tom Dunmore, packmen Mike Embleton and Adam Endersby, who will start in the front row, and Andy Gargan, who will captain the side from loose-forward.
Select XIII: Leigh Rientoul (Acorn), Tom Dunmore (Lokos), Jordan Hyde (Acorn), Craig Farrell (Scarborough), Mike Welsh (Heworth), Chris Stephenson (Hull Dockers), Tim Elliott (Acorn), Mike Embleton (Acorn), Jon Liddell (unattached), Adam Endersby (Acorn), Tom Hill (Acorn), Jon Eccles (Hull Dockers), Andy Gargan (Acorn). Subs: Danny Caldwell, Matthew Woods, Joe Porter, Martin McTigue, Antony Chilton (all Acorn), Liam Gargan (New Earswick All Blacks), Chris Varley (Heworth), Darren Bumby (Hull Dockers).
KISS of life gets Senior service
The Knights’ Independent Supporters Society, KISS, are selling tickets for two fundraising events.
They will be staging a big sporting dinner at Bar 13, Huntington Stadium, on Saturday, March 16, featuring former Leeds and Great Britain star Keith Senior as guest speaker. Tickets, to include a four-course dinner, are £25.
Before then, they will hold a quiz and race night at Huntington Sports Club on Saturday, March 2, starting at 8pm. Tickets for this cost £5 for adults and £3 for under-16s and include a chicken and chips supper.
Tickets are available from KISS committee members at the Knights’ friendlies, from Gary Hall on 01904 634902 and from the Knights’ office on 01904 767404.