SCOTT RHODES reckons there might be one or two heated exchanges when his representative amateur team take on York City Knights this weekend – but stressed he did not want to see any “messing about”.
A York Select XIII go to Huntington Stadium on Sunday (3pm) to take on the Knights in the professional club’s last friendly prior to the start of their Kingstone Press Championship One campaign a fortnight later.
It will be the fifth such pre-season encounter in recent years, with the scores standing at two wins for the Knights, one for the amateurs and one draw.
Those games have generally been well-contested, but matches between pros and amateurs can sometimes witness a bit of biff, sparked by the occasional mistimed tackle and with bragging rights and pride at stake.
Asked if this one was likely to be feisty, Rhodes said: “It’s rugby league. It can do or it can’t do. It depends what happens on the day. If there are a few high shots it might get heated. I don’t think there’d be any malice in it, though. The game’s a bit too quick these days to be messing about, and you don’t want to be giving too many penalties away.
“If you go with that attitude and give silly penalties away, it will make things a whole lot tougher so it’s not something I want to see happening.”
Rhodes made the Knights big favourites.
“I suppose it depends on what they’re thinking but they’ve been telling me they’re going strong with a first-team squad,” he said. “By rights, if it’s anything like the team that played Sheffield last week, it’d give us little chance.
“What we’re trying to do is make it as competitive as we can. We should not be going to York Knights and beating them. We’re an amateur outfit. But we will give it all we’ve got. We will play to our structures and try to out-enthuse them and if we do that, the game can swing.
“It’s important we try to match them around the ruck – that will be a big part of the game. With them being professional, they will be really strong in that area and should be better technically than us.”
He added: “I’m expecting a tough game but we’re looking forward to it.
“It’s great that these lads can test themselves against pro players – that’s what it’s about for me. You never know, we might surprise them.”
The bulk of the 21-strong Select squad, as reported, is made up of players from York Acorn ARLC, of whom former Knights skipper Rhodes is head coach. Sunday’s challenge match also therefore acts as a warm-up for the start of their National Conference League division one season on March 1.
However, while the Blue and Golds have been in pre-season training, the Select party, which Includes three men from New Earswick All Blacks and two from Heworth, have only had three full sessions together and don’t meet up again until game day.
Said Rhodes: “New Earswick are in mid-season but this game gives the Acorn and Heworth players an extra chance to grab some game time, which we’ll probably need.
“With us only having a few sessions together getting to know each other, I’ve tried to keep things simple, but keeping to some of the philosophies I coach. It makes sense that the game plan will be pretty similar to how Acorn play.”
Select XIII (probable): Joe Budd, Ryan Gallacher, Matthew Woods, Arran Thompson, Joel Johnson (all Acorn), Liam Gargan (New Earswick), Antony Chilton, Adam Endersby (both Acorn), Jack Carling, Jack Stearman (both New Earswick), Adam Withington (Heworth), Joe Porter, Andy Gargan (both Acorn). Subs: Mike Embleton, Nick Speck, Davey Burns, Martin McTigue, Jordan Myers, Jordan Hyde, Leigh Rientoul (all Acorn), Jonny Payne (Heworth).
• New Earswick All Blacks have no game on Saturday in the Pennine League championship.
Selby Warriors try again to play their Pennine League Andrew Bennett Memorial Trophy first round game against visitors Brotherton (2.30pm).
The tie was twice previously postponed because of the weather. Selby, whose sole win in their last nine outings was expunged as opponents Dodworth quit the league, prop up the division one table while Brotherton are fighting for promotion.
Selby Warriors ‘A’ go to Cowling Harlequins in division seven.