YORK City Knights boss Gary Thornton was quick to offer congratulations to Jamie Shaul following his sparkling Super League debut – but insisted there was no way he could have dropped Tom Carr to accommodate the dual-reg Hull ace.
Full-back Shaul has been regularly proffered by the Airlie Birds for inclusion in York’s team on dual-reg terms but, barring the Kingstone Press Championship opener at Whitehaven in which the 20-year-old gave an indifferent display on the wing, that offer has not been taken up.
The former bricklayer, however, made the jump straight into Hull’s first team on Bank Holiday Monday and ended the day as the talk of the terraces after a two-try show in a 34-22 victory at Wakefield.
Thornton has “no doubt” Shaul would be a star at Championship level should he get a run of games in his favoured position, but was quick to point out the form of Carr – as highlighted over the Easter double-header when the 21-year-old played a starring role in the shock win against his former club, Featherstone, and was The Press’ man of the match in the cruel last-second loss at Barrow.
Thornton’s comments also underlined his belief on how the controversial dual-reg system should work.
“Jamie is a quality player, there’s no doubt about it, but he’s not really a winger, and I’ve got Tom Carr playing well at full-back,” said Thornton.
“Playing Jamie over Tom is not for me what dual-reg is all about.
“If I’ve got one of my own players playing well every week I’m not going to drop him to put a dual-reg lad in.
“It’s a tough one because I’ve no doubt Jamie Shaul playing full-back would go really well for us.
“But I’ve already got a full-back going very well for us and I have to stick by my own players.
“He was probably our best player on Monday at Barrow and wasn’t far off being the best player on Friday against Featherstone.
“It would be wrong of me to leave him out just to put a dual-reg player in. That’s the policy I’m sticking with. If Tom was not playing well or starts making mistakes that cost us, I could justify leaving him out. But there’s no justification with the way he’s been going.”
Carr was also named in this week’s Premier Sports team of the week for the Championship.
Said Thornton: “I think he’s getting better week by week. He’s very coachable and he’s very much about improving the team and the club. He’s a great lad to have around. He’s a great trainer and his performances fully justify that inclusion.
“I was delighted for him on Friday to play so well against his old club and I think he backed that performance up on Monday.”
Ironically, Thornton may actually have fielded Shaul on Monday had he been offered that day, but Hull kept all of their dual-reg lads in reserve, including York regulars Dean Hadley, Jack Briscoe and the currently crocked half-back Danny Nicklas.
Said Thornton: “Tom could maybe have done with a bit of a break. He was pretty sore after Friday and he perhaps deserved a well-earned breather, but we could not do that.
“It was the same for a few of them. A lot of them are still young lads in their first full season at Championship level and that takes its toll.
“It was a tough ask for some people to back up, especially young people like Jack Pickles. It was massive for him on Friday and he was buzzing, but it would have been good to have been able to not ask him to back it up again on Monday. If I’d had someone like Dean Hadley, for example, at Barrow, it would have been good.”
York are again set to be without any dual-reg players for Sunday’s trip to St Helens’ Langtree Park home for the Challenge Cup tie against amateurs Blackbrook, Hull not wanting any players to be cup-tied.
Added Thornton: “For me, it’s also disappointing for these lads (York’s regular dual-reg players who did not get selected for Hull) as they won’t have played for three weeks.”