The Championship outfit have a partnership effectively in place with St John whereby the club can train at the university’s new sporting complex at Nestlé Rowntree Park, formerly known as Mille Crux.
In return, sports science and media students can gain work experience and placements with the club’s backroom team and physio department.
Permanent use of the complex is yet to be rubberstamped as City of York Council needs to give its approval given that the rugby club’s move to new training facilities from their current Huntington Stadium base is being funded by the council-led community stadium plan. The council and uni bosses are in talks over funding.
Knights captain and under-20s coach Ford, though, hopes there will be no hitches, having already seen benefits being reaped.
“They (St John) are still developing the site but the aim is to make the facilities there among the best in the country for rugby league,” he said.
“That will improve their sports provision and attract students, and the Knights will benefit as well. In six to 12 months the facilities there will be superb.
“It will be brilliant for me not only as a player but also as under-20s coach, to bring players on and so the club can bring players through for generations to come.
“When I first came to York we were still very much a Championship One team playing in the Championship, in terms of our facilities.
Chris Thorman (then player-boss) was one of the best coaches I’ve had but it (training issues) was more of a facilities thing.
Some of the blokes didn’t even do proper weight training. We didn’t have a gym so everyone had to do weights on their own so it’s harder to see how everyone is getting on.”
The Knights, who did much of their pre-season training at the new venue, are leaving Huntington Stadium, where they train and play matches, at the end of 2013, switching temporarily to York City’s Bootham Crescent ground before both clubs move into the new arena.
Ford added of Nestlé Rowntree Park: “It helps to create a professional environment and culture that you need to be successful at this level.
“It’s something every club needs to do.
“In Jay Salter we have a good conditioner who put good programmes in place for us to get us lean, athletic and powerful, and the facilities are better there.”
• YORK City Knights second-row Sam Scott has been named in the Premier Sports Team of the Week for the Kingstone Press Championship.
Scott was adjudged The Press’s man-of-the-match in York’s 42-2 defeat at Batley on Sunday.
Bulldogs full-back Miles Greenwood and hooker George Flanagan received similar accolades after their two-try displays, while Tom Hemingway’s touchdown, on the back of a superb move, was named try of the week.