NEW recruit Ryan Backhouse will make his York City Knights bow against his former Castleford team-mates tomorrow – knowing he might end up fighting some of them for a shirt once again this year.
The 20-year-old loose-forward, who can also play at centre, has signed a pay-as-you-play deal at Huntington Stadium, having been released by the Super League outfit at the end of last season.
The two clubs, though, are now in partnership, meaning Backhouse and his fellow Knights will need to make an impression tomorrow not only to jump ahead of each other in the battle to begin the Championship One season but also to keep at bay the Tigers starlets who could well join York on dual-registration.
Cas will probably start tomorrow’s Paul Higgins Memorial match at The Jungle (1pm) with first-teamers, but a number of fringe players will join the fray off the bench.
Knights boss Gary Thornton said: “Some of them will be up for DR (dual-reg) this year and they may think they will walk into our team so I’m saying to my boys to show them who deserves a place.
“It adds to the competitive edge tomorrow, with them going up against each other.
“Anyone who comes on DR will have to be better than my boys who have been working hard with us over pre-season. My players will get the first opportunity and saying to them to take their chance.
“If they play well and deserve to be in the team, they will be in the team. This is their first opportunity to impress and lay down a marker for March 2.”
Backhouse, who was born in York but grew up in West Yorkshire, was in the 19-man squad for the Tigers’ last game of 2013, against Wakefield, but, having come through the system at Wheldon Road, was unable to break into the Super League ranks and, now too old for their under-19s squad, he was allowed to leave.
He has since had a successful trial at York, teaming up again with Thornton, who previously coached him in Cas’s academy.
Thornton said: “I was a bit surprised they didn’t offer him a new contract. He’s another victim of the reorganisation in Super League with their reserves going to U19s – when people think if they’re not good enough at 19 then they’re not going to be good enough.
“I coached him a bit at Cas, when he played up an age group from U18s to U20s with me.
“It might be that it’s a year too early for him for Championship One but he can play, that’s for sure, and he will get a chance.”