YORK City Knights boss Gary Thornton was to speak again with Hull counterpart Peter Gentle today to confirm which players from the Super League outfit are to be freed up to begin dual-registration stints at Huntington Stadium this weekend.
Speculation has been rife that former Knights flier Tom Lineham and fellow winger Jack Briscoe are among those in the frame for temporary spells with the Championship outfit as part of the partnership agreement between the clubs.
But there are several others in the frame too, including second-row Dean Hadley and possibly even prop Chris Green, who made an impact on dual-reg at York last year before returning to the KC Stadium having put himself in the Super League picture.
The Press understands Briscoe, fellow outside back Jack Latus, Hadley and full-back Jamie Shaul have been penciled in to make their York bows in Sunday’s friendly against Hunslet, when half-back Danny Nicklas should also return to begin his second spell at Huntington Stadium.
There will always be an element of uncertainty over which such players will be available from week to week as it depends on form and injuries in the Airlie Birds ranks, even if the change in academy rugby from under-20s to U19s does mean fewer dual-reg players can be recalled to play in parent clubs’ academy games.
Indeed, there is no guarantee that Nicklas will remain at Huntington Stadium for a lengthy period despite agreeing a season-long loan, as he could get called back for Super League action.
But the outcome of talks this week will give Thornton an idea of whom he can expect to welcome into his ranks in the short term at least ahead of the season’s opener at Whitehaven on February 3.
This could have a knock-on effect on current Knights wannabes, too – not least trialists Lee Nobbs and Jake Joynt.
Up to five borrowed players can play in any one Championship game and the impending arrival at York of, for example, Briscoe and Latus could knock Nobbs further down the pecking order.
Thornton explained his position regarding the Skirlaugh amateur. “Lee has got competition in front of him and I won’t sign him if I don’t think he’s going to get game-time – it wouldn’t be fair.
“There is potential that some players from Hull could come in and I have to do right by Lee and see whether he’d have a realistic chance. He’s too old for the under-20s so won’t get games there.
“I’ve gone through a few things with him on what he needs to work on. He’s a bit green, which is understandable as he’s not played at this level before. He’s coachable, though, and is a good, fit, strong athlete.
“I just have to balance what he brings to the squad and who he’s competing with. There’s George Elliott, Ben Dent and young Luke Tomlinson, plus players we could bring in from Hull.”
Hull’s first-team squad returned from warm weather training in Tenerife last Thursday. The bulk of them got a run-out in Kirk Yeaman’s testimonial match against Castleford on Sunday, but Gentle is set to field a strong and trimmed down party for this weekend’s friendly with Hull KR, freeing up fringe players for a run with York against Hunslet.
There will then be a bizarre scenario of them all returning to Hull to line up in a reserves side against their new team-mates at Huntington Stadium in the following weekend’s pre-season fixture between the partnership clubs.