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Youth policy to the fore as York City Knights weigh up relegation to third tier
10:41am Friday 30th August 2013 in Sport
BOSS Gary Thornton has suggested York City Knights could put more onus on their exciting crop of youngsters as they prepare for life in Championship One, writes Peter Martini.
The Knights were relegated from the Kingstone Press Championship following defeat at Doncaster on Wednesday, meaning many senior player contracts for 2014 have effectively been annulled.
The club will instead have to rebuild, and promoting the young guns is one option, a proposition made more attractive following their successful season which took James Ford’s youthful outfit – most are aged 17 to 19 – into last night’s U20s Championship play-off semi-final at Featherstone.
Thornton has also been impressed by the quality shown from the likes of 18-year-old Greg Minikin and Ben Dent following their recent call-ups to the senior side, in addition to already established first-teamers Kriss Brining and Ed Smith.
“The young boys, Greg and Ben, were terrific again (on Wednesday night),” said Thornton, who was also at last night’s match. “Kriss Brining had another good game. It was probably the more experienced players that let us down. I was really pleased with the young guys that came in.
“We know where we are now. We have to build the future of the club around guys like this.”
Planning for next season remains uncertain as the Rugby Football League have yet to decide the format for 2014 ahead of the professional rugby league’s restructuring in 2015. The club hope promotion will remain from Championship One into a shrunken Championship. However, it may be that no team goes up next year.
Either way, on a reduced budget, the Knights seem likely to promote more of the youngsters for action in the lower tier, the under-20s having provided many of the club’s plus-points this season.
Thornton added: “If there are any positives to come out of the last few weeks it’s that the young players have done themselves proud.”
Ford’s starlets won eight of their 12 league games this year, despite giving away a year or two on some opponents, and many of them remain eligible for the U20s next year.
Minikin and Brining both played last night, despite turning out for the first team 24 hours earlier. Smith also made his U20s bow, having been omitted on Wednesday.
Only two overage players were allowed, with 21-year-olds Ben Crane and Jack Iley, a fringe first-teamer, in the Knights line-up.
Jordan Myers, a York Acorn junior, formerly on the Knights scholarship, played for Featherstone U20s, as did Jake Joynt, who had a spell at York earlier this year.
Featherstone won the game 34-26, despite a brave effort from Ford’s troops. York led 16-10 at half-time through tries by Tyler Craig, Ryan Gallacher and Lennox Green. Craig and Green also crossed in the second half, but Rovers had the edge. Green added three conversions.
Knights U20s: Tomlinson, Gallacher, Minikin, Craig, Foster, Morland, Green, Stubbs, Carter, Smith, Crane, Brining, Iley. Subs: Batty, Fitzsimmons, Long, Parker.
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