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Family matters at forefront of Alex Benson’s Knights exit
ALEX BENSON has admitted he felt frustrated at his lack of game-time this season – but has stressed his reasons for leaving York City Knights are based only on family needs.
As reported yesterday, the Knights club captain has quit Huntington Stadium 32 months after signing from Doncaster, after his shock request to be released from his contract was granted by the club.
He has played eight times this season but has not featured since being a substitute in the Challenge Cup fourth round loss to Sheffield on April 15, a back problem having not helped matters since then.
However, he says it’s non-rugby matters that have seen him come to his “very difficult decision”.
The 27-year-old has just started a new personal training business – which could prove more lucrative than his part-time rugby contract – on top of his full-time job while his family are expecting their second child, and these concerns mean he has less time to devote to rugby.
Said Benson: “My main reason for leaving is the fact I need to give myself the opportunity to get my PT business running long-term. It’s something I need to look at.
“I’m 27 now and if I didn’t give myself the opportunity to do this I would kick myself.
“I’ve got a full-time job that gives me a good regular income so that has to be the last thing to go. Of the three things, it had to be rugby.
“I’ve been travelling straight to York from Hull three times a week, doing 16-hour days, and then there’s trying to fit PT in on top of that, with Sundays also taken up by the rugby.
“I have to do the right thing for my family. We’re due another baby in August.”
Benson has struggled to hold down a first-term berth this season and was controversially left out of last Sunday’s match against Keighley having initially been named in the squad after returning from a back injury.
He trained all last week but was usurped when Nathan Freer returned after injury on Friday night and declared his availability. Rookie prop Adam Howard and Dave Sutton, recently switched from wing to second-row, also kept their places ahead of him.
Asked if that all played a part in his request to be released, Benson said: “I did have frustrations about not playing as any sportsman would – it wouldn’t be natural if I wasn’t disappointed. But my decision isn’t based on that. I’m big enough to fight for my spot.”
The departure means Benson leaves the professional rugby league arena, but he has not ruled out a return. “It’s now June and if after a few months and it’s not working out or I massively regret not playing and I’m really missing it, I could try to get back somewhere.
“I’ve just got to give myself an opportunity to take this step because if I don’t I will end up kicking myself.”
A regular in both 2011, when he missed only two games due to a suspension at the start of term, and 2010 – Benson played 52 times for York, scoring one try in each of the three seasons.
He helped the Knights to promotion through the Championship One play-offs in his first season at the club in 2010 and was given the captaincy by then head coach Dave Woods ahead of the 2011 season.
He was named club captain by new player-boss Chris Thorman ahead of this term, with James Ford team captain. Ford takes over overall captaincy with immediate effect.
Benson added “I’ve had nothing but a good time at York.”
Thorman said of his decision to leave Benson out: “I picked Nathan Freer because I think he’s been playing well. We had Nathan, Alex and Joe Hemmings back. I was not going to drop Adam Howard because he went all right against Featherstone and he’s waited for a chance and earned his opportunity.”