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York City Knights boss Chris Thorman ‘wowed’ by Keighley Cougars clout
CHRIS THORMAN has admitted looking over at Keighley Cougars’ squad with envy ahead of the Co-operative Championship clash between the sides at Huntington Stadium.
Thorman will be without his only other ball-player, Ben Johnston, tomorrow due to the dislocated finger suffered in last week’s battling loss at Featherstone – just three games into the 19-year-old’s dual-registration spell at the club.
Keighley, on the other hand, have several playmakers in their ranks following their eye-opening recruitment drive upon their promotion from Championship One last year.
Former Knights player-boss Paul March and fellow ex-Super League star Sam Obst moved to Cougar Park, while Wales international Danny Jones returned after a year at Halifax.
The creative riches also include the ever-improving Jy-Mel Coleman, the one-time Knights youngster who has broken into the Cougars line-up, and dangerous hooker James Feather, and it all means player-boss Jason Demetriou has been deploying scrum-half March as an additional ball-player at loose-forward.
“I’ve been pretty impressed with Keighley watching how they play,” said Thorman. “They’ve got a lot of threats on the park. They’ve got quite a few ball-players. There’s Danny Jones, Sam Obst, Paul March, Jy-Mel Coleman – it makes me a little bit jealous saying it like that. Everybody else runs off them.”
His Cougars counterpart, Demetriou, also brought in fellow former top-flight stars Michael Korkidas and Semi Tadulala to bolster his pack and outside backs respectively, and his side have since enjoyed a decent run in the Championship with four wins from seven games, boasting the league’s best defence to boot. They are only three points off second place with a game in hand.
When asked if he was surprised by their competitiveness following promotion, Thorman said: “No, because of the signings they made. Everyone was like, ‘Wow’. They signed two from Super League and two others with Super League careers behind them.”
Thorman, conversely, has far fewer options tomorrow and the plethora of injuries in the camp means he has named all of his fit players – now 19 of them – in his provisional squad. The 17 on show last week, minus newly crocked pair Johnston and fellow Cas dual-reg player John Davies, will be joined by teenager Kris Brining and fit-again trio Alex Benson, Joe Hemmings and Ben Dent.
Benson and Hemmings add to the pack strength, although big Adam Howard could keep his place as an impact prop after his decent Championship debut last week.
Brining looks set to be used as substitute hooker, with Brett Turner, pictured, likely to be reluctantly moved back to scrum-half in Johnston’s absence.
The Knights, meanwhile, attempted to being dual-reg packman Chris Green back from Hull but the request was turned down.
Thorman explained: “He’s out of contact at the end of the season and Hull say they want to see him at their club as much as possible to see if he can earn a new deal. That’s their reasoning behind it. I would have thought that playing in the Championship would be more beneficial but it’s not what they think.”
Thorman’s men will be underdogs again, but he added of his side’s attempts to break their win duck: “We’ve been competitive for the last few games. We just need that result. We will have 17 men on the pitch and they will have 17 men.”
As reported by The Press, York City fans with either a season ticket or a ticket stub from either of their two recent Wembley finals can gain admission for £5, or free for under-16s. This offer has also been extended to members of City of York Athletics Club.
Turnstiles at Huntington Stadium open at 1.30pm, although Bar 13 will be open for ticket-holders from 12.30pm, showing Super League action from Magic Weekend on the big screens.
Knights: from Tansey, Bush, Ford, Garside, Elliott, Dent, Thorman, Turner, Aldous, Lee Sullivan, Clarke, Smith, King, Sutton, Hemmings, Benson, Howard, Brining.
Keighley (possible): Moss, Barnett, Haythornthwaite, Lawton, Tadulala, D Jones, Obst, Shickell, Feather, Cherryholme, Pursglove, R Jones, March, Coleman, Demetriou, Rawlins, Korkidas.
Referee: Dave Merrick (Castleford).