YORK City Knights boss Gary Thornton reckons the controversial new dual-registration system needs revisiting to prevent it being abused – but says he would “be wrong” not to pick a player of Super League calibre if it bolstered his team.
Thornton is having to make one of those judgment calls this weekend regarding Joe Arundel, who made his debut for Hull in their Super League loss to Leeds last week but has now been offered to partner club York for the Knights’ opening home game of the Kingstone Press Championship campaign tomorrow, against Swinton (3pm).
Unless events in Hull’s match with Bradford last night change things, former Castleford centre Arundel, 21, is to join winger Jack Briscoe in becoming the latest from the Airlie Birds ranks to don the Knights shirt.
Thornton said: “Joe has trained with us. I had a conversation with (Hull coach) Peter Gentle and it seems he was a bit off the pace for Super League. If he’s made available, it would be stupid not to take him.”
Tomorrow’s visitors, Swinton, were vilified in some quarters last week for fielding Challenge Cup winners Paul Wood and Tyrone McCarthy in their line-up against Workington after signing Warrington’s entire squad on dual-reg.
Veteran prop Wood, having proved his fitness, was back in the Wolves’ 19-man squad to face Wigan last night, but McCarthy, a try-scorer in the Wembley win last year, remains with the Lions this weekend.
Swinton have also recruited a smattering of Warrington reserve players on permanent deals, allowing them to field more than the five allowed under dual-reg rules.
Thornton believes the Knights’ arrangement with Hull is different to the Swinton-Warrington tie-up, and that Arundel’s case is not the same as, for example, that of Wood.
“This is where there needs more clarification. The system needs looking at,” he said. “Joe Arundel, though, is still a young kid. It’s not as if he’s an experienced Super League player who’s been around for years. He’s still in many ways a junior Super League player.
“I don’t see Joe Arundel as the same as Paul Wood. I don’t think the two are comparable. If we were offered a Richard Horne or a Danny Tickle, then it would be a similar thing.
“Also, with Joe, I don’t see it as being a one-off. They might be looking at him spending two or three weeks with us, which would help with our continuity, although a lot, of course, depends on how Hull go.”
Critics say the dual-reg system is being abused, but no rules have been broken.
Thornton added: “The whole thing is a work in progress. Until the RFL change the (dual-reg) rules, if players are available who I think would strengthen our team, I would be wrong not to take them.”
Prop Josh Bowden was recalled by Hull after making his York debut in last week’s opening-day loss at Whitehaven, but fit-again winger Jack Briscoe was made available and he – along with Arundel – joined Danny Nicklas, Tom Lineham and Dean Hadley as dual-reg players at York this week.
More names could be added today, although only a maximum of five can feature.
Jamie Shaul, who played last week, is omitted from Thornton’s provisional 19-man squad tomorrow.
Former Hull KR, Widnes and Harlequins prop David Mills replaces Wood in the Lions’ line-up, with boss Steve McCormack saying that is his only change in personnel from the team that lost to Workington.
• Knights supporters’ club, KISS, will run a bus to next Sunday’s match at Batley if there is sufficient demand. Phone Gary Hall on 07763 121732 before Tuesday to book seats or seek him out in Bar 13 at tomorrow’s game.