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Chris Thorman lets rip at Knights reserve flops
FRUSTRATED player-boss Chris Thorman has admitted York City Knights would not have run a reserves side this season had they known the struggles they would face – and he has blamed a lack of commitment from some players as major factors in their woes.
Club chiefs were scrambling around for players to make up the numbers ahead of the reserves’ 62-4 loss at Halifax on Thursday night – their 12th defeat in 12 Reserve Team Under-23 Championship outings.
They had reinstated the second string at the start of the year with high hopes it would be a key development tool and a good way to give fringe players a chance to shine and keep first-teamers on their toes.
But, with a number of players seemingly not wanting to turn out at reserve level, allied to injuries, the club have often had to fill vacant places with amateur hopefuls and under-18s.
Thorman, left increasingly angered by it all, said: “I’m massively frustrated. Every week we’re fighting to put a team out and I’m sick of it, to be honest.
“It’s been a huge struggle to get teams out.
“In hindsight we probably wouldn’t have run the reserves if we’d known the amount of injuries and struggles with work commitments we’d have. People have let us down a lot too.”
Asked to expand on that comment, he said: “It’s people that say they’re committed but aren’t and don’t turn up for training.
“We made the decision to have a reserves team on the understanding that people would be committed to the club and earn the right to progress in their rugby league careers, but too many people have been unwilling to do that.”
He did not name names, but said: “I could reel off a list of ten people who’ve been in the squad or the fringes of the squad.
“Others deserve credit, though, as they’ve toughed it out and never missed a session or a game.”
Given the reserves’ form and makeshift teams, Thorman reckons the club’s U18s side, who have won five of the six games in their mini-season, would win a match between the two.
“We would’ve gone with the U18s and looked at them at the back end of the season to see who could make the step up,” he said of the club’s initial plans at the turn of the year.
“But our U18s could play the reserves and win.
“That’s not the fault of the lads who turn up regularly but we’re so short of numbers it’s been very difficult.”
Thorman did not want any front-line players to feature on Thursday night in case they picked up more injuries – the side were already down to the bare bones before Dave Sutton was stretchered off unconscious against Leigh on Sunday – but they had to let Kris Brining, Nathan Freer and Jack Stearman play to make up the numbers despite being in the first-team frame.
Thorman said: “We were forced into playing them even though we didn’t necessarily want to. We had no choice.”
Additionally, new work commitments have meant prop Adam Howard has been unable to train with the first team and so is out of the Championship picture, but he has still turned out for the reserves. Transfer deadline day has also passed.
Thorman added: “It would be great if we could get a couple of players in but there are only four (first-team) games left and I understand the club aren’t going to do that as things are now very much focused on next year.
“But we’ve got four games to play and I don’t want to lie down and die. I want to be competitive even if it’s pretty tough.”
Dual-reg half-back Ollie Olds is in the Leeds U20s side that visits Wakefield on Sunday and the Knights will be desperate he comes through unscathed so he can take their scrum-half jersey against Featherstone next Friday.
The Knights reserves trailed only 16-4 at half-time at Halifax, with Adam Dent scoring their try, but a youthful side then toiled.
Tim Stubbs, Ash Winstanley and Tom Fitzsimmons all figured despite having played for the U18s 24 hours earlier, joining fellow teenagers Ash Haynes and Ash Stephenson in the side.
Student player Chris Whitfield is facing a spell on the sidelines after suffering a dislocated knee in the defeat.