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World Cup focus honed by Knights
THEY might face stiff competition for signatures but York City Knights are keeping a keen eye on the Rugby League World Cup as they look to add finishing touches to their 2014 squad.
The Press understands the club are sitting down with Jason Golden this week to put pen to paper on terms which have been verbally agreed, with the second-row former Super League star accepting a pay cut to stay at Huntington Stadium having missed virtually all of 2013 through injury.
The Knights, though, have missed out on Ryan MacDonald, the much-travelled prop, who has now agreed new terms to stay at North Wales Crusaders, whom he helped to promotion from Championship One last season, rather than return to the Minster city, where he had one season of ups and downs in 2007.
Instead, boss Gary Thornton may turn to the World Cup for inspiration in finding a suitable replacements as the Knights look to build a squad they hope will challenge for promotion back to the Championship.
Agents are likely to be having a field day as the tournament – a huge hit in its opening week – continues to catch the imagination with supporters and club chiefs alike, and The Press understands the Knights are among the domestic teams to whom players, little known on these shores, are being heavily touted.
Club chairman John Guildford said: “We’re watching games closely and we’re getting the stats and facts and tip sheets on various players.
“The problem is everybody is looking at them and they start being too expensive as you have to find overseas players somewhere to live.
“But if the right player becomes available we would certainly be interested – we would be silly not to be interested.”
Guildford was keeping tight-lipped on Golden’s imminent re-signing, but regarding MacDonald he said: “Unfortunately we could not live with what they (Crusaders) were offering, we couldn’t match those terms.”
Meanwhile, talks are ongoing behind the scenes about the format for the 2014 Championship One season, following the controversial scrapping of the Northern Rail Cup and the continued wrangling over the planned restructuring of the domestic leagues for 2015.
The straightforward format for Championship One would be for all nine teams to play each other three times, making 24 league games. However, the seemingly favoured proposal is for a season of 20 matches, in which teams play every other team twice and four geographically close teams a third time.
As plans stand, the winners of the league are likely to get a cash prize but the winners of the play-offs will be the team that wins promotion to the Championship.
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