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Sam Orange to sign for Knights
Castleford Tigers starlet Sam Orange is signing for home-town club York City Knights , reuniting with head coach Gary Thornton in a bid to kick-start his Super League ambitions.
Former York Acorn ARLC junior and one-time Knights scholar Orange, 19, has seen his progress at Wheldon Road hampered by two injury-hit years, beginning with a serious car accident in late 2010 which left him with memory loss issues.
He has continually battled back, however, and, following his release by the Tigers, which can partly be blamed on Super League reserve-grade rugby switching from Under-20s to U19s next year, he is taking a step into the Championship with genuine hopes of returning one day to an elite-tier club.
Thornton, who takes over as York head coach having been the academy boss at Cas, said: “I’ve coached Sam for the last three seasons.
“He’s one of the victims of the U20s reserve-grade restructuring at Super League level which is affecting a lot of lads who finish U19s and don’t get put straight away into first-team squads and end up looking for clubs.
“He’s a York lad as well. It was always going to be on the cards that he’d come here if Cas released him, and we’re delighted he is.
“He’s developing all the time and he’s still a young guy. He’s been very unlucky with injuries at Cas and that’s stalled his progress.
“Just when he was getting noticed something cropped up, such as injury or that car crash.
“He’s been on the periphery of getting into full-time training, but with his full-time education and his injury problems it didn’t make sense to go full-time.
“Their loss is our gain. He’s a big, strong lad and he carries the ball well. He has a fantastic attitude to training and playing and is very dedicated.”
Dringhouses -based former Millthorpe School pupil Orange, who is now studying at York St John University , joined Castleford’s youth structure in 2008 having previously been on the Knights’ old scholarship system and in the North Yorkshire Service Area representative squads.
His return to York also means he could end up forming a back-row partnership with close friend Ed Smith, another Dringhouses teenager.
Thornton added: “He’s not given up hope of playing Super League and it’s a case of stepping backwards to go forwards.
“ I’ll do everything I can to help him and he’ll grasp this opportunity at York with both hands.
“You always get 100 per cent from Sam, and he’ll be a great addition to the squad and good to have around.”
The Knights have long wanted more North Yorkshire players in the ranks, and general manager Ian Wilson said: “It’s great to have another local player come back to the club.”