HEAD coach Gary Thornton expects York City Knights’ new defensive structures to come under immediate scrutiny when they face a strong Castleford side in their opening friendly of 2014.
Aussie half-back Brett Seymour heads a magnificent seven new signings who have been named in the Tigers’ 21-strong match-day squad for Sunday’s outing at The Jungle (1pm), the bulk of which is made up predominantly of Super League players.
Ireland captain Liam Finn, who has moved from Featherstone, Frankie Mariano, Marc Sneyd, Andy Lynch, Scott Wheeldon and Michael Channing also make their Cas bows, with the likes of fit-again Justin Carney and Craig Huby likewise included.
Knights fans who make the trip to Wheldon Road can also expect to see full-back Jordan Tansey, who had such a disappointing spell with York before being taken back to the top tier by the Tigers, line up against his former club.
Thornton said: “They’re putting out a strong side with plenty of established Super League players and a sprinkling of youngsters.
“It’s a big test for us but we’re looking forward to our first hit-out. We will be doing an awful lot of defending but that will test our new structures we’ve brought in.
“Our boys are chomping at the bit. We’ve been in (training) since November and December and they can’t wait to get out there and play a match. It will be a fantastic test playing against Super League opposition at a Super League ground.”
Michael Shenton, Jake Webster, Adam Milner, Luke Dorn and veteran Lee Gilmour are omitted from the Cas party, mainly due to injury concerns, but this gives youngsters like Ben Reynolds, Jordan Howden, Brad Day and Will Maher the chance to make an impression.
Cas boss Daryl Powell, the one-time coaching consultant at York, is expected to start the game with his strongest 13. He said: “This is really the start of our pre-season programme and it’s an important game leading into a crucial season.
“The squad for Sunday is a very strong one and I am looking for a tough and organised performance.” The winners of the match will be awarded the Paul Higgins Memorial Trophy, named after the former development guru at both clubs, which was last played for in 2012.
Advance tickets cost £10 for adults and £5 for juniors and concessions. Matchday admission costs £12 and £6 respectively.
Castleford: Jordan Tansey, Justin Carney, Marc Sneyd, Andy Lynch, Craig Huby, Grant Millington, Daryl Clark, Oliver Holmes, Frankie Mariano, Scott Wheeldon, Richard Owen, Michael Channing, James Clare, Dan Fleming, Liam Finn, Charlie Martin, Ben Reynolds, Brett Seymour, Jordan Howden, Brad Day, Will Maher.