INCOMING full-back Ben Reynolds scored a try with his first touch for York City Knights – but James Haynes is the player who appears primed to start the campaign as Gary Thornton’s number one.
Reynolds the first player to join York on dual-registration from new partner club Castleford, scored one and set one up as the Knights under-20s reserves beat Sheffield U20s 42-22 in Thursday night’s friendly – but he later joined a posse of players on the treatment table, putting in doubt his availability for the Championship One kick-off a week tomorrow.
Head coach Thornton – impressed with Reynolds’ display and “excellent” attitude – said the 20-year-old was set to play an important role during the season, but he suggested, especially given the knock the youngster took to his hip after an unfortunate collision, that he might have to wait for his first-team debut.
Haynes and Luke Hardcastle were already vying for the full-back berth.
“We’ll know the full extent (of Reynolds’ injury) a bit later but it looked quite awkward and it’s very sore,” said the head coach.
“He showed some good touches and for a first hit-out in the reserves he adapted pretty well. He looked quick, sharp, had good hands and took his try really well.
“He needs to spend a bit of time working with the first team and whether I decide to throw him straight in remains to be seen.
“James Haynes has not done anything wrong. I think Ben will play a big part in what we’re doing throughout the year, though.”
He added: “I thought his attitude was spot-on. That’s not always been the case with dual-reg players. He even came along the other week when he’d had a knock and couldn’t train just so he could see what we’re doing, and to do that was fantastic.”
One player who is almost certain to miss out on the season opener against Gloucestershire All Golds is winger Curtis Macdonald, due to the leg injury he suffered on Thursday.
X-rays showed he had not broken a shin or ankle bone as feared but ligament or muscle damage is suspected. He will be assessed next week, as will Tom Rogers, who hurt ribs.
Thornton added: “We don’t know the full extent (of the damage) but it will probably rule him out next week.”
Other tries on Thursday night came from Harry Carter, the impressive Ryan Backhouse (2), Tyler Craig, with a brilliant finish, debutant Nathan Harper, set up by Reynolds, and George Elliott.
James Morland gave a classy display at stand-off, substitute Steven Batty set up two scores, and Ben Crane converted all seven tries.
Thornton added: “It was a bit stop-start at times but the players are certainly going in the right direction and several of them are really pushing for first team, and that’s great for the club.”