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Knights ditch dual-reg deal with Super League's Hull FC
YORK City Knights have dissolved their dual-registration partnership with Hull FC – calling a stop less than nine months into a three-year agreement.
The two clubs had announced the partnership to a big fanfare last October.
However, The Press understands the Knights gave Hull the mandatory six-month notice to end it little more two thirds of the way through the season following a stack of controversy.
It officially ceases early in the new year but, with York now in their off-season, there will be no more contact.
Knights chairman John Guildford confirmed the news, though he did not rule out a partnership with another Super League club in the future.
He said: “It won’t be continuing next year. We (the two clubs) did not fall out and there was no big issue. It was just not working.
“It doesn’t mean we won’t go (into partnership) with another club, although we’d have to go in with our eyes open.”
This dual-reg agreement had come increasingly under fire from York supporters and head coach Gary Thornton.
The calibre of player York expected to regularly have to hand did not materialise, with the likes of Tom Lineham, Ben Crooks, Chris Green, Josh Bowden, Jason Crookes, Joe Arundel, Jay Pitts, Liam Watts and Jamie Shaul – all first-team Hull squad men earmarked for York action at the start of term – turning out only 11 times between them.
Some of those that did come – with the exception of Lineham, with four tries in two games before going on to have an excellent season in Super League, Jack Briscoe, with six tries in 15 games, and Dean Hadley, who played ten times – left under a cloud.
Danny Nicklas quit after nine appearances, Shaul and Crookes were slammed for lazy performances, and, so The Press understands, another unnamed player at one point said he would not play for York if put on the bench.
The partnership was also supposed to see Hull share best practice “on a range of strategies” such as media and marketing, strength and conditioning, and coaching development.
However, while there was some work in junior rugby, with Hull helping the Knights set up their new scholarship and pinpointing players for the under-20s, nothing much else happened.
Furthermore, Hull offered up no dual-reg players for the last nine games of the Knights’ campaign – which ended in an 11-match losing run and relegation from the Kingstone Press Championship. This barren spell seems to coincide with York serving the six-month notice, though that link has not been confirmed.
Thornton had hoped the 2013 agreement would counter previous problems experienced with dual-reg whereby players were called back to their parent club, often at short notice.
However, he said: “I was very disappointed in it. I don’t think it did us any favours apart from two players in Jack Briscoe and Dean Hadley.
“Jack in particular was excellent and I was sorry when he got injured (in early July). Tom Lineham got himself a chance at Super League and did fantastically well, so congratulations to him and there’s no criticism there.
“But I was not happy with the attitude of some who came. Their heart was not in it and it meant, after some of the things they did, I was not going to pick them again.
“I was disappointed over Easter when Hull offered us no players – something they did not mention at the outset.
“We needed them up at Barrow (a defeat on Easter Monday) as it was a big ask for our young guys to back up after we beat Featherstone (on Good Friday).
“The other disappointing thing is the list of quality players we were told would be made available did not materialise.
“And the whole Danny Nicklas affair was a joke.”
In Hull’s mitigation, a lot of their games were on Friday nights, when the likes of Green or Bowden were 18th or 19th man and so could not train that evening with York.
They also had several injuries through the year, meaning boss Peter Gentle was wary of risking further knocks to his squadmen at York, while their Challenge Cup run to the final meant they kept players back as a precaution, even if it meant they got no game-time at all.
Thornton added: “There were weeks when Hull offered certain players for Sundays but they hadn’t trained with us, even on the Friday, and it wouldn’t have been fair to bring them in over our lads who’d trained all week.
“It changed from week to week and was very frustrating. On a Tuesday I was going to get six or eight players, but come Friday there was none.
“They were often keeping players back as a precaution. The whole idea of dual-reg is supposedly to help young players, but if the club choose not to send any and risk them, it’s their call, even if it means they aren’t going to be match fit when required. It was all compounded by their cup run.
“Towards the back end of the season we did not have any contact whatsoever, which was disappointing.
“It was not a great experience overall. I think dual-reg can work if it’s managed right, but here it was probably just the wrong situation.”
• Wakefield have severed their dual-registration partnership with Championship club Doncaster after a row between the head coaches.
Wildcats boss Richard Agar has reacted angrily to claims made by Tony Miller following the Dons’ Championship play-off defeat by Dewsbury that Agar “wanted to pick the team for me”.
“This is a ludicrous comment,” Agar told the club’s official website. “I am appalled Tony would make such a comment. I would find it hard to pick his team as I don’t know half of his squad.
“The underlying issue is they are sour because we pulled back Kyle Trout and Liam Kay to play for us on Sunday in what they described as a meaningless game. Our first-grade side will always take precedence over dual registration.”
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