YORK City Knights will NOT be continuing their dual-registration partnership with Castleford Tigers this season.
It had been widely expected the arrangement would run into a third year, with Cas chief executive Steve Gill intimating to The Press last week that the agreement just had to be ratified by the Tigers board and head coach Daryl Powell.
However, it has now been called off and means the Knights will miss out on potential squad strengthening via dual-reg recruits – Greg Minikin included.
It had previously been hoped York's double Player of the Year would be back on dual-reg following his switch to Cas and, while a loan move has not been ruled out, that too is unlikely, with Powell keen for the 20-year-old to get experience in the Championship rather than League One.
Former York Acorn ARLC junior Ash Robson, who had starred throughout pre-season for Cas, had also been tipped for a dual-reg spell at his home-town club – but has in any case been ruled out for eight months by a horror knee injury.
Asked about the decision, Knights boss James Ford said: "There's no ill-feeling. Everyone at York wants Cas to do well and I'm sure it's the same from them to us.
"I'm not sure whose decision it was at Cas – that's a matter for them. But there's a good relationship between the coaching staff and at board level. It was surprising but it is what it is and we move on."
Asked if York had expected to get any particular players on dual-reg for the start of the League One season, Ford said: "They are Castleford's players, so it's not one for me to answer.
"Cas have a number of good youngsters who will be on the fringes of the first team and will need game time. I'm sure Cas have plans for their development."
Asked specifically about Minikin, and even the chance now of a loan bid, Ford added: "Greg has got to be looking forward.
"He's not my player, so it (whether he gets picked by Castleford or goes out on loan) is not for me to comment on, but Greg himself has got to be looking at playing Super League.
"If he doesn't get minutes, he's extremely well thought of at York. As York coach, I'd love to have him back in our squad – I would be silly not to. As his friend, I'd want him to play Super League – and he's got the ability to do so."
It is unclear what caused the apparent about-turn from Wheldon Road and Castleford have not commented.
However, one long-standing concern about dual-reg is that the borrowing club could be pushed by their Super League partner club to pick dual-reg players when made available and Ford has long said that would not happen under his watch, as has major shareholder John Guildford.
The Press also understands Cas had wanted a clause which meant any dual-reg agreement could have been overridden if the chance came to loan players to Championship clubs instead.
As regards potentially having to pick dual-reg players as part of any arrangement, Ford said: "We don't want to lose our identity as a club. We want to grow as an organisation and diluting that by in any way becoming a Super League club's second team, in my opinion, is not the right route to go down.
"Dual-reg can work really positively – I think it did for much of the time for both us and Castleford last year. I'm not opposed to dual-reg but I am opposed to one club dominating the other."
In the first year of the York-Cas link-up, four players were used on dual-reg – Jake Webster (one game), Dan Fleming (one), Ben Reynolds (16) and Brad Day (four), though only Reynolds was eligible for the play-offs.
There were three players last year – James Clare (seven), Jordan Howden (17) and Michael Channing (seven) – but only Howden was available for the play-offs.
l Brad England, released by York in late January, reportedly injured a knee after coming off the bench for Doncaster in their 26-18 friendly defeat to a young Leeds Rhinos side on Sunday. He has been on trial with York's League One rivals.