GARY THORNTON has admitted being surprised at some of the big names who have been dual-registered with his York City Knights team — but says he will not chuck them into his line-up to the detriment of his own players.
The Press can reveal that Hull first-teamers Liam Watts, Jay Pitts, and Jason Crookes, their new signing from Bradford, have been signed on dual-reg forms with Thornton’s Championship club.
They add to the list confirmed yesterday – forwards Chris Green, Josh Bowden, Liam Kent and Dean Hadley, full-back Jamie Shaul, and outside backs Tom Lineham, Jack Briscoe, and, in another surprise, Hull’s current Young Player of the Year Ben Crooks.
Jack Latus, who is on trial at Hull, is also included, while half-back Danny Nicklas is to arrive on a long loan.
It remains to be seen how often each will be made available to the Knights on a weekly basis, but, while it seems likely Hull’s young fringe players could be part of Thornton’s regular squad, with a maximum of five allowed per game, York’s head coach says he faces a balancing act when it comes to the bigger names.
“I don’t think they will be used here an awful lot,” Thornton said of Watts, Pitts, Crookes and Crooks, who played 63 times between them in Super League last year.
“I must admit I was susprised to see Jay Pitts and Jason Crookes to be honest. They’re first-team players effectively.
“Any of their first-teamers can be dual-registered (under the rules) but just because they’re on the list doesn’t mean they’ll be available or that we’ll have to play them.
“Liam Watts has missed pre-season because of injury and maybe they want him to have a game or two with us to get match-fit for Super League.“We have to be a bit careful with it really. I’d be reluctant to pick them just for a one-off. I’d be more likely to play them in our Under-20s if it’s just about giving them a bit of game-time.
“If Liam Watts, for example, might have to spend four or five games here, then that’s a different conversation.
“If we need a boost up front one week, then I wouldn’t hesitate to play him. But if our front row is going well I wouldn’t want to disrupt that to give someone 40 minutes of football. I’ve got to be fair to the rest of the my squad.
“We have to make sure dual-reg works for York. Peter Gentle (Hull boss) is a good bloke and he knows that. It has to work for both clubs.”
Thornton, however, said the case might be different when it came to the threequarters, where the arrival or Crooks, Briscoe or Lineham would be welcome.
He explained: “We’re a bit light in the outside backs. I’ve known for a while Jack and Tom were possibles.
“With Ben Crooks also on the list, I’d think we’d be able to have at least one available and I’d be foolish not to play players of that calibre.”
“We’ll have to see about Ben Crooks or Jason Crookes – they’re established Super League players.
“The likes of Tom, though, are on a pathway to becoming Super League players, and playing in the Championship can help that.”
Thornton added: “The good thing is we’ve got cover across the board, with front-rowers, back-rowers, pivots and outside backs on the list.”
Meanwhile, the Knights’ friendly against Hunslet tomorrow was called off yesterday due to a frozen pitch.
The Knights will instead train indoors at the York St John University’s facilities.
Thornton added: “We’re massively disappointed by the call-off.
“It was a big part of preparations and it was the first opportunity to integrate some of the dual-reg players. But a lot of clubs are in the same boat.”