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Ollie Olds on alert for a debut Knights slot
YORK City Knights will have no qualms about throwing new scrum-half Ollie Olds into Co-operative Championship action at Keighley Cougars if required, said assistant coach Mick Ramsden.
The 18-year-old, who arrived at Huntington Stadium this week on dual-registration terms from Leeds Rhinos, could be hurled straight into the fray tomorrow (kick off 2pm) – despite having played only one senior game when starring for Wales in their international against France last month.
But, with Danny Nicklas having been called back to Hull at the last minute before the Dewsbury game, and now injured in any case, the Knights are short of options at half-back and Olds could well be called upon to partner player-boss Chris Thorman.
“We’ve had this problem at half-back and we keep thinking we have solved it and then something else happens,” said Ramsden.
“Danny is injured now and so we have moved in for another quality player.
“Ollie has trained with us this week. He looked good and he has worked pretty well with Chris at half-back. It’s going to be a testing game, particularly defensively, and we will see how he goes in defence.
“Attack-wise, he looks pretty good. He’s been learning all the plays and he has had to do that pretty quickly. But he has come from the Rhinos so he is well-schooled. When you look at our options, we haven’t got many and we have brought him in to play.”
The curse of dual-registration has struck the Knights again this week with forward Chris Green missing as he has been called up to Hull’s Super League squad.
After the debacle with Nicklas, with the Knights receiving only a night’s notice of his return to Hull, Ramsden is getting tired of the disruption the scheme is causing.
“All the players we have brought in have been good and I really wish they were our players,” he said.
“It causes so many problems (when they are called back). Other members of the team see this quality coming in and think we are going to have a strong side this week and then they get pulled.
“Against Dewsbury, with Danny Nicklas the night before, it ruined our preparation. I would rather go without dual-registration as Super League clubs hold all the cards and we don’t need the disruption.
“But, with the injuries we have had, we have had no option.”
The Rhinos have guaranteed the Knights that Olds won’t be called back until after the game against Halifax next month, at the earliest, and Ramsden is hoping Ed Smith has recovered from an elbow injury to meet the Cougars. Dario Esposito could also be another option in the back row.
On Keighley, Ramsden said: “They are a strong team all over the squad and we will need to be strong defensively. That’s what we have worked on this week and it’s going to be a hard game. We played well against Dewsbury and will be looking to take some of the good points from that game forward.”
Keighley coach Jason Demetriou, meanwhile, could be boosted by the return of Ben Sagar and Semi Tadulala.
Demetriou said: “We want to get Semi back to match-fitness as soon as we can, before we get to the back end of the season. It’s a big plus to have him back for this part of the campaign.”
Richard Jones (shoulder) is unlikely to play as the Cougars try to arrange a scan to establish the full extent of his problem.
Demetriou believes his side is now approaching the final weeks of the season with a different mindset following a blank weekend.
He said: “The weekend off has done us a few favours. We can address where we are and give ourselves a pat on the back.
“We set some targets at the start of the season and now we want to re-set the targets. We’re looking above us. We’ve got a game in hand and if we win that we’re one win off second place.”
• Knights under-18s hooker Harry Carter has signed a two-year deal with the Huntington Stadium club.
Carter has been in fantastic form for the young Knights all season and has impressed club staff enough to earn a professional contract.
He made the step up to the reserve team in last night’s 32-14 defeat against Halifax and showed up well.
James Ford, U18s head coach, said: “Harry is a competitor by nature, he wants to win at everything. With a good off season behind him, I’m sure he’ll be a big hit with the players, coaches and spectators.”