HEAD coach Gary Thornton admitted York City Knights’ friendly tomorrow had hallmarks of an old-fashioned trial match in which one team donned home shirts and the other the away strip.
The Knights host Hull (3pm) in both clubs’ final outing of pre-season but the twist is that eight players in the visiting team will be eligible for the Knights this year under new dual- registration rules.
Several of them are in the running to be in the York line-up that kicks off their Championship campaign at Whitehaven next weekend, five borrowed players being permitted per match.
And Thornton said he would therefore be watching their form tomorrow as keenly as that of his own team.
“It’s certainly one of the things I will be taking note of,” he said. “Seven or eight of those players might be made available to us.
“I’m not bringing in anyone I don’t think will make us better, so this is a good way to see the players go up against each other.
“It would have been even stranger had last week’s match been on, as some of those lads will have played for us one week and against us the next.”
Hull have named three front-line players in their team tomorrow – Richard Horne, Richard Whiting and Paul Johnson, the new recruit from Wakefield, all being Super League regulars.
Danny Nicklas plays at stand-off before beginning his loan spell at York, and seven players dual-registered with the Knights – Tom Lineham, full-back Jamie Shaul, centre Ben Crooks, winger Jack Briscoe, and forwards Chris Green, Josh Bowden and Dean Hadley – all start too.
The rest of Hull’s 20-man match-day posse are from the youth ranks.
Knights general manager Ian Wilson said: “It’s a strange game. We want to win but at the same time it would be good to see some of the dual-reg lads play well, and if they play well then will we win? We don’t want them to be poor. We want to see what these lads can do.”
Hull kick off their Super League campaign at Leeds next Friday and, as it stands, none of these eight are set to be involved, unless injuries crop up in the KC ranks or they are required as 18th or 19th man.
Under the dual-reg proposals, they should then be made available for Thornton.
The Knights boss is running with a strong team tomorrow, a line-up which gives clues to his likely first-choice 17 should he be without dual-reg additions.
Hooker Jack Lee has been struggling with a shoulder problem so won’t be risked if anything but 100 per cent, while James Haynes’ latest setback means he must wait longer to return to action. Luke Stenchion, Sam Orange and Adam Sullivan are also in the treatment room. Jason Golden, Simon Brown and Sam Scott have overcome knocks, and fit-again Matty Nicholson makes his York bow.
Kriss Brining will start in Lee’s stead and this means diminutive teenage hooker Harry Carter is poised for his first pre-season run-out off the bench, having missed the two other friendlies due to illness.
Fellow under-20s player Greg Minikin is another substitute.
Thorton said: “I thought Greg did all right in his first hit-out (against North Wales). He made some errors but he did a lot of good things. He’s very promising. He’s quick, athletic and has plenty to offer.
“I think this season is probably too early for him but it will be nice to know if we do need to call on him that he’ll be ready. It will be good to see where he is in his development.”
Knights (probable): Carr, B Dent, Lyons, Ford, Elliott, Presley, Brown, Dale, Brining, Aldous, Scott, Smith, Golden. Subs: Carter, Bell, Nicholson, Iley, Craig, Minikin.
Hull: Shaul, Lineham, Crooks, J Briscoe, Latus, Horne, Nicklas, Green, Cunningham, Bowden, Hadley, Whiting, Johnson. Subs: Wilson, Starling, Abdul, Turgut, Stark, Braham, Ward.