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Turning ‘Predator’ into a York City Knights front-row
CHRIS THORMAN reckons the ‘Dreadlocked Destroyer’ has shown enough to suggest he will be in the running for a first-team berth even when York City Knights are back up to full strength.
Big Adam Howard, a fixture in the reserves and a “project” for the Knights coaches since his arrival at the club from North East amateur minnows Peterlee Pumas 22 months ago, made his Championship debut at Featherstone on Saturday, and the rugby union convert showed up well in tough circumstances.
He was in the team due to injuries to front-line forwards Nathan Freer, Alex Benson and James Houston, as well as pack rivals Joe Hemmings, Davey Burns and Jack Stearman, while further injuries on the day meant the 24-year-old played more minutes than had been planned. It was only his fourth senior game of rugby league.
But Thorman was impressed with what the 24-year-old – who has also garnered the nickname Predator due to his imposing appearance and a hairstyle not unlike the fearsome movie character – brought to the party.
The player-boss also said Howard did his chances of future call-ups, even when others are fit again, no harm at all, and had the potential to be “devastating” if he kept on improving.
Indeed, Howard has kept his place in the provisional squad for tomorrow’s visit of Keighley, even though Benson and Hemmings are available again.
“I thought he went great,” said Thorman, who also gave a pat on the back to Dave Sutton, who has recently made the move from wing to second row but was forced to play up front at Post Office Road.
“It’s a huge step up from what Adam’s been used to, playing in the reserves to playing away to Featherstone. He’s going to be better for it.
“He’s so much fitter than he used to be. We didn’t rotate him and Sutts as we would have wanted to, because of the injuries, but I thought they did well.”
He added of Howard, with a glint: “We’ve almost got a rugby league player out of him.
“He’s learning the game all the time and he’s learnt enough to know himself where he’s not been up to speed. He’s getting there. It helps having people like Paul King and Adam Sullivan educating him on some of the finer points of that position.”
Asked whether Howard had pushed claims for a regular spot, Thorman said: “We had no alternatives last week but he showed that he can do it. He’s a handful when he carries the ball, especially when he’s fresh.
“Ideally we would play him in ten or 15 minutes spells. It was impossible to do that on Saturday – he had to play longer. If we could play him how we’d like to, he could potentially have a devastating effect.”
• FROM one player who is still relatively new to rugby league to one who has reached a notable landmark much further down the line.
Not many players these days rack up 300 professional appearances but Danny Brough has now done so – and a fair bit of that is probably thanks to York City Knights launching his Super League career.
The Knights’ then chief executive Steve Ferres reckoned he had signed a star of the future when he brought the then 20-year-old, inset, to Huntington Stadium midway through the club’s inaugural 2003 season.
Nine years later, scrum-half Brough has hit 300 first-team games, the bulk of which have been in the top tier, with the landmark figure coming this month.
Brough began his career with Dewsbury in 2002, making 37 appearances for the Rams before joining York – where his career effectively took off.
He played 53 games for the Knights, smashing goal and point-scoring records under coach Richard Agar in 2004 and catching the eye of Super League scouts aplenty.
Indeed, he penned a deal with Hull before the end of that season but his obvious regard for York was captured in film when he was close to tears after the National League Two Grand Final loss to Halifax. He was on his way up but he was devastated York weren’t.
After 43 appearances for the Black and Whites, including kicking the match-winning points in the Challenge Cup final, he joined Castleford midway through 2006. Brough played 35 games for the Tigers, in their unsuccessful bid to avoid relegation from Super League that year and their promotion campaign from National League One the following term.
Brough began 2008 with Wakefield, and made 57 appearances for the Wildcats before joining current club Huddersfield in March 2010. He has played 65 games for the Giants since then, helping them to become apparent title challengers too.
Also included in the 300 figure are ten appearances for Scotland, though he has since turned international allegiance to England.
• AND now from one scrum-half to another. Eagle-eyed readers of The Press may have noticed that the Knights’ dual-reg recruit from Castleford has had a minor name change since his arrival at Huntington Stadium.
Apparently the name Ben Johnson is on all the paperwork at Cas and now York, and so it was spelt like that whenever it appeared in print. However, we have it on good authority (from Ben’s dad, in fact) that his surname is actually spelt Johnston.
Here’s hoping that the former York Acorn youngster can follow in Danny Brough’s footsteps and forge a career in Super League too, propelled there by some startling performances for the Knights.
• KISS, the York City Knights Independent Supporters’ Society, are holding a ‘Back to the Sixties’ night tonight at Huntington Sports Club, starting at 8pm.
There will be a ’60s quiz then live cabaret with an act from the USA, Lionel, plus a disco. Tickets are £5, available on the door. All are invited. All money raised goes to the Knights’ squad builder fund.
Tickets will also be on sale for KISS’s forthcoming Caribbean barbecue and disco.
• VOTE for your Player of the Month for May before noon on Wednesday by following the link on www.thepress.co.uk, emailing email@example.com, or tweeting @PMartiniPress.
The winning player gets three bonus points for his The Press Player of the Year tally. The Player of the Year updates from last week’s game at Featherstone and tomorrow’s game against Keighley will be in this column next week.
Adam Sullivan is to be presented with his Player of the Month for April award tomorrow.