YORK Acorn ARLC kick off their pre-season programme on Saturday wth boss Scott Rhodes saying they cannot wait for the National Conference League campaign to begin.

The Blue and Golds have welcomed Davey Burns back into the fold after his contract ended at York City Knights and fellow forward Simon Wadsworth has also returned to the ranks after a year out.

Added, too, are teenage starlet Ash Robson, who has left Leeds Rhinos’ youth system, and a few promotions from the under-18s such as Harry Bromwich and Richard Ashton, all of which, allied to an encouraging training regime, leaves Rhodes excited for Acorn’s return to the premier division, amateur rugby league’s elite tier.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “We’ve had 30 to 40 down training at every session, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings – we’ve had some really good commitment off players who have bought into what I’m trying to do. We’ve also had a great input from Ian Walbridge (a personal trainer) from Roko at Clifton Moor, who’s helped us out with our conditioning.

“It’s great to have Davey back – we all know what he can do. If we can get Simon right and get him committed, he’s probably as good as anyone at this level. He’s a monster. In the pack we’ve got the likes of Davey, Adam Endersby, Tom Hill, and I don’t think there’s a better amateur at under-23s than Joe Porter at the minute – he’s got massive potential.”

Rhodes was also hopeful of recruiting Joe Hemmings to the ranks, too, if and when he returns to the game. The forward, a New Earswick All Blacks product, has been in the Knights squad for a couple of years but has stepped away from Huntington Stadium due to family commitments.

Rhodes said: “He’s having time away from the game as he’s got a young family. I would love him down at the club. He’s young, big, strong, athletic.

“We’ve got a number of young players making big strides, too. The likes of Antony Chilton and Jordan Hyde – they’re a year older and a bit more experienced now, and I’m looking forward to seeing them have another go in the top division.”

Acorn go to Shaw Cross Sharks on Saturday (2pm), stepping up their preparations ahead of the season opener at East Hull on March 2.

Neighbours Heworth also have a friendly lined up, at home to Gateshead Storm (2.30pm), as they build towards their campaign in the new-look NCL division three under new coach Tim Rumford.