THE hopes York City Knights had of upcoming prop Dan Fleming coming to Huntington Stadium on dual-registration this term appear to have waned – although head coach Gary Thornton has not ruled it out.
The 21-year-old Wales international has been named in partner club Castleford’s line-up for their opening Super League match of 2014 against Bradford tomorrow – with boss Daryl Powell saying he could be an important player for the Tigers in the next few months.
Fleming, who joined Cas’s under-21s side in 2011 from Halifax, has been on dual-reg at Championship club Batley for the past two years, impressing enough to break in the Tigers’ Super League team five times towards the end of last season.
The size of the first-team squad at Wheldon Road had York hoping he may have begun this term down the Tigers’ pecking order enough to play some dual-reg games in Championship One.
However, front-rowers Ryan Boyle and Nathan Massey start the season in the treatment room, with Fleming earning an immediate call-up after shining in pre-season fixtures.
And Powell said: “While we have got a bigger squad to be able to deal with injuries this season, up front we are missing two of our front-line props in Boyle and Massey. Dan Fleming was very good at Dewsbury. He was tough and was exceptional in his second stint.
“He’s going to be important for us over the next month or so as he looks to make his mark.”
Thornton said: “Congratulations to the lad. It’s good for us that Cas rate him highly enough to put him in their 19.
“We’re two weeks away from the start of our season, though, so a lot can happen yet.
“We’re looking okay (at prop). Jack Aldous and Austin Bell have been outstanding, as has Jake Joynt, and we’ve a couple to come back in.”
Thornton also envisages that the 18th and 19th men for Cas on a Friday or Saturday will be made available for York on a Sunday, assuming they are dual-registered.
“Daryl all along has said that people who don’t make their 17 will be up for selection for York, even if they’re in their 19-man squad.
“I’m not overly concerned by it (Fleming’s call-up).
“It’s a bit different to how things were with Hull last year when those lads didn’t come over.”
York are not currently well-stocked up front with Nathan Harper and Nathan Freer having been unavailable for pre-season games. New prop Iain Morrison comes in for his Knights bow, tomorrow, though, and the return of Lee Paterson at loose-forward frees Bell to start in the front row.
Thornton added: “Sam Orange and Ben Crane can also push forward from the second row. I thought Sam was excellent up front against Halifax in the U20s last week.”