BOSS Gary Thornton is likely to field a full quota of five borrowed players from Hull when York City Knights kick off their Championship campaign at Whitehaven on Sunday – after seeing the Black and Whites’ second string take his team apart.
The Knights have confirmed pack leader Paul King, fellow prop Clark Thompson, the recruit from Castleford, and veteran centre Jon Goddard have now officially left the club, all predominantly due to work commitments.
But they were optimistic the departures would be offset by incomers from partnership club Hull, and Thornton, so disappointed by his own team’s showing in yesterday’s 60-14 friendly defeat to the Super League outfit, will almost certainly turn to the KC Stadium ranks to bolster his line-up.
“There’s a strong possibility that will be the case,” he said, when asked if, on the evidence of the respective performances at Huntington Stadium, he would use the maximum number of borrowed players allowed under the new dual-reg rules.
“I’ve got food for thought. It’s a case of seeing which players Peter Gentle will make available. We need strengthening up the middle and on the flanks.
“I was disappointed. In the first 20 minutes we showed up quite well, but we then conceded two tries and fell to pieces. That’s really concerned me.
“One or two need to think about what they’re doing. On that showing, they’re not ready or not good enough for the Championship.
“We never seemed to get going once they got on top. We were always behind the eight ball.”
It was scoreless a quarter of the way through the game but then Hull ran riot with six tries in the next 20 minutes for a 36-0 interval lead.
“I was disappointed with the reaction when we went behind,” said Thornton. “I don’t think our response was anything like how I expect them to respond. To concede 30-plus points in 20 minutes is very disappointing and we need to address it quickly.
“There weren’t two points at stake, but it was a competitive game. Hull were very good and very clinical. We’ve got a long way to go – and we need to get there very quickly.”
Eight players dual-registered with York were on show for Hull yesterday, with one of them, full-back Jamie Shaul, named man of the match, capped by a try double. Another, Tom Lineham, likewise scored two tries, as did impressive half-back Danny Nicklas, who will start the season on loan at the Knights.
Dual-reg props Chris Green and Josh Bowden won the battle up front while dual-reg centre Ben Crooks bagged a try and eight conversions.
A concern for York, though, is all of them will have done their first-team chances at Hull no harm, and nobody yet knows which players will be made available to the Knights, or how often.
“We’ve probably got the chance of bringing Chris Green or Josh Bowden in, or possibly both. I would expect at least one to be available for us and he will play if he is. A lot will depend on Luke Stenchion and Adam Sullivan (if they’re fit after injury),” said Thornton, who admitted that, while Thompson and Goddard have never played for York having signed this winter, the loss of King was keenly felt yesterday.
“We’re light up front. I always knew that. We’ve been bringing props in but I’ve got to make a decision whether they’re good enough to play at Championship level. We missed Adam Sullivan.
“I was pleased with Matty Nicholson in his first hit-out. When he and Jack Aldous went off we lost it in the middle of the field. Austin Bell did okay but it showed we need more muscle up front.
“I thought Danny Nicklas played very well – he showed a lot of good stuff. I’m looking forward to working with him.”
James Haynes played 30 second-half minutes at centre after a year’s injury absence.
The Knights fielded another trialist yesterday in Jack Pickles, the player of the year for amateur outfit Milford Marlins last season. Thornton added: “He’s been training with us for a week or two. He did all right.”