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Hull's Danny Nicklas in for Knights, but Alex Benson wants to exit
A BUSY day at Huntington Stadium has seen York City Knights bring in a new half-back and close in on another in a bid to solve their playmaking troubles – only to be rocked by the club captain’s decision to exit the revolving door.
Hull starlet Danny Nicklas, who has made six first-team appearances for the Super League side, has joined on a dual-registration agreement, effectively being a like-for-like replacement for crocked Castleford dual-reg scrum-half Ben Johnston.
Negotiations have also been ongoing with former Huddersfield starlet Tom Hemingway, currently on the fringes at Championship champions Featherstone, about a loan switch.
However, just as the Nicklas deal was being finalised, the club were also granting Alex Benson’s request to be released from his contract.
The club skipper has cited new business and family commitments as reasons for his departure, although frustrations over a lack of first-team opportunities have probably played a part too.
The Knights’ need for new half-backs has been no secret, with player-coach Chris Thorman the only recognised play-maker on the books – and with Johnston’s stay proving short-lived due to a broken thumb curtailing his dual-reg move.
The arrival of Nicklas has been warmly welcomed, but the Knights, having been short on creativity all year, are also keen to add goalkicking ace Hemingway, once rated Super League’s next big thing as he came through the Huddersfield ranks.
The 25-year-old had loan spells at Batley, Halifax and Blackpool – where he was particularly prominent, not least when equalling the all-time record for goals in a match with 22 in the Panthers’ 132-0 Championship One thrashing of Gateshead in 2010 – before joining Featherstone at the start of 2011.
He has struggled to hold down a regular berth at Rovers, though, and The Press understands they are willing to let him go out on loan initially for one month with a view to it being extended until the end of the season.
It is thought the two clubs have agreed terms but the player is to have talks with Rovers boss Daryl Powell before deciding on his future. Other clubs are probably interested too.
Amid the recruitment negotiations, though, the Knights were hit by Benson’s request, and, following talks between the Hull-based prop and general manager Ian Wilson, the player – who was first given the armband ahead of the 2011 season and was named club captain this year – was allowed to end his two-and-a-half-year stay.
Team skipper James Ford will now be the sole captain.
Player-coach Chris Thorman said of Nicklas: “He’s someone we’ve been after for some time. He got a few opportunities at Hull, which is no mean feat when you think about their half-backs, but we’ve bided our time. We’re thankful to Hull.
“With Tom (Hemingway), I’ve known him since my time at Huddersfield. On his day he’s a very good ball-player.
“He’s a tough cookie as well – he can defend – and he can kick very well.
“He’s just the sort of player we want, and they can complement the players already here.”
Nicklas is set to be available for the Knights’ next match, at home to Swinton a week on Sunday, and Thorman, likewise a half-back, hoped Hemingway would also be involved – even if it gave him a selection headache.
“I haven’t had one of them all season, but I’ll gladly accept it,” he said, hinting the three of them could feature in a new-look formation should Hemingway also arrive.
“Keighley had five or six ball-players in their 17 that played us on Sunday. We had me and three hookers.
“I want more half-backs. We need more ball-players – everyone knows that and it was never more evident than on Sunday.
“We’ve been trying and trying to get some in but there have been numerous reasons why we haven’t been able to.”
The Press understands both Nicklas and Hemingway are out of contract at the end of 2012 and, with the Knights’ thoughts already turning to 2013, permanent switches have also not been ruled out.