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John Smith signs for York Acorn ARLC
The Blue and Golds host Rochdale Mayfield on Saturday (2.30pm) needing two points to bolster their National Conference League division one promotion bid but they will be shorn of ten players – largely due to captain Tom Hill’s wedding, plus a long suspension for big prop Nic Caldwell.
They have also encountered some stuttering form, having been grateful to edge victory at lowly Stanley Rangers last weekend.
Second-row Smith, though, is set to train at Thanet Road for the first time tonight and come straight in for his debut, bolstering the depleted ranks. The 31-year-old – he turns 32 next Tuesday – played 81 times for the Knights between 2004 and 2007 but then left the pro arena. He had a spell at Acorn in 2009 sandwiching some games for Featherstone Lions.
Acorn boss Scott Rhodes, a former team-mate of Smith – nicknamed Bull – at the Knights, said: “I don’t think he’s had much match action but I think he’s been itching for a game. He’s come to help out and he’ll add more strength and experience. He’s an aggressive kid, tough and strong.”
Six players will be at Hill’s wedding, adding to a few long-standing injuries and now a six-game ban for Caldwell dished out for dissent. In better news, brothers Chris Rushworth and Joel Porter, one of the club’s young-guns, and veteran try-scorer Johnny Waldron are available again.
Rhodes added: “It will be a patched-up side but we’ve got a few good young kids coming through. It’ll be a big ask though.”
Acorn edged mid-table Mayfield in April thanks to a last-minute penalty, but Rhodes warned: “They are much-improved from then. They’re big, strong and physical and they’re playing well, picking up wins.”
Caldwell’s absence is the last thing Acorn needed, but the big man will stay involved at Thanet Road in the meantime, coaching the ‘A’ team, although they have no Yorkshire Men’s League fixture scheduled this weekend.
Rhodes described refereeing standards at NCL level as “terrible” but said: “Refs aren’t going to change their mind, we all know that. Nic apologised afterwards but it’s a six-game ban. He’s let himself down there but there’s nothing we can do.
“You’ve got to keep your discipline. It’s ludicrous the number of penalties we’ve been giving away. If we’re going to do well this season we have to be squeaky clean.”
NCL division two strugglers Heworth have a weekend off, as do York Lokomotive in the Yorkshire Men’s League, while Heworth ‘A’ are at Hunslet Warriors ‘A’. Players are to meet at 12.15pm or phone Joe on 07736 427825 if unavailable.
Pennine League club Selby Warriors, with a new-look team, won 28-14 at new club Garforth Tigers in a physical opening fixture of pre-season. Tries came from Matthew Irving (2), Wayne Fennel, Arron Sharp and Dane Skelton . Nick Weaver added four goals.