York City Knights reporter Peter Martini reveals the men to carry the Knights standard during the 2015 season:
Coaching and boot-room staff
Previously a prolific try-scorer with Sheffield and Super League player with Castleford, he joined York as a player in 2011 from Widnes. He was named captain and the topped try-scoring chart in 2012, then became U20s coach, and assistant to first-team boss Gary Thornton. Took over the reins after Thornton’s Championship One title-winning team crashed out of last year’s promotion play-offs and has battled through a maiden pre-season in charge which has been severely disrupted by the York community stadium saga leaving them homeless and without a proper training base.
Tutoring colleague of James Ford at Wakefield College, where they have both coached in a rugby league development centre. Effectively will be doing what Ford did last year - a number two off the pitch and taking a coaching role on it during games.
Assistant-coach and reserves coach
York RL stalwart as a player and coach. Sandwiching two seasons with Wakefield, his career with his home-town club is now entering a 23rd year. Has seen it all too - promotions, title wins, relegations and, as a veteran of the old York Wasps, various ups and downs off the field too.
First-team manager and assistant-coach: Will Leatt.
Strength and conditioning coaches: Jamie Bell, Sam Orange.
Nutritionist: Dan Martin.
Physio: Jessica Large.
Club doctor: Dr Hermann Knut.
Jack Aldous 10
Date of birth: 3/4/91
The Press Player of the Year in 2012 and 2014 - which pretty much says it all. Not the biggest prop but ‘Mr Duracell’ is ever-reliable and gets through more work than most week after week.
Mark Applegarth 8
Former Press Player of the Year returned from Batley Bulldogs as player/assistant-coach in the off-season. Brings experience, knowhow and strength to the forwards, having played in every position in the pack, barring hooker, during his career.
Peter Aspinall 16
Graduate of Huddersfield’s academy he is an England U18s tourist and featured twice in Super League as a teenager. Had a short spell at Batley followed by 11 games with then Championship champions Sheffield last year. Should bring size and aggression, as well as ability, to the edges.
Austin Bell 17
No-nonsense forward heading into third season in first grade. Came on a lot last year after embarking on a steep learning curve in 2013 and could be better again this term.
Kriss Brining 14
Former scholarship starlet became the Knights’ youngest-ever player when entering as a sub at Widnes in April 2011. Became a regular in 2013 while still a teenager but endured an injury blighted 2014. Needs to work on passing and game management but is quick out of dummy-half, has an eye for a try and his tackling technique means he punches above his weight.
Harry Carter 9
Was coached by James Ford at Wakefield College and went on to be a standout player for the Knights U18s, U20s and reserves. Lacks size but makes up for it with zip and is said to be beyond his years in game management. Has massive boots to fill if seen as long-term replacement for departed Championship One Player of the Year Jack Lee.
Jamel Chisholm 19
Much has been made of his “fastest man in rugby league” tag - he won official sprint challenges in 2009 and 2010 - and he also notched 27 tries in 18 games for Leeds’ academy in 2012. Could not crack the Rhinos’ first team, though, and, after spells at Hunslet, on dual-reg, Featherstone, and, briefly, in rugby union with London Welsh, he arrives at York looking to nail down a first-team shirt and show off his pace.
Tyler Craig 24
Youngster who rose out of Heworth ARLC ranks is a fitness freak and looks a better player the more confidence he gets. Has gradually become more of a fixture in the first-team frame and is eyeing his best year yet.
Liam Cunningham 4
Former Hull U20s captain almost quit rugby after missing all of Doncaster’s 2013 season after injuring a shoulder in their league opener. Signed on again in 2014 and played nine games, scoring twice, as the Dons surprised the Championship. Hoping for a big season at League One level even if he does face stiff competition in the threequarters.
Adam Dent 25
Scored two tries in two appearances last year as he follows big brother Ben from U20s into first grade.
Ben Dent 2
Came out of the New Earswick ARLC ranks to impress in Knights’ reserves in 2011 and win a contract. Broke into the first team at the end of 2013 and last year was a try-scoring sensation - the second top scorer in Championship One with 18, and with 20 in 23 appearances in all.
Corey Hanson 23
Jamaica international came through the Sheffield ranks but injury restricted him to two Eagles appearances last year, plus three on loan at Gloucestershire. Injury also ruined his 2012 and he spent 2013 helping Sheffield Hallam Eagles win the Southern Conference. Previously bagged 11 tries in 20 Sheffield first-team appearances in 2011, though, helping them to the Championship Grand Final - and that’s the form he’s looking to rediscover.
James Haynes 1
Punchy and hard-running, he joined York towards end of 2010 and was man of the match in Grand Final as York won promotion. Missed all of 2012 with sciatic nerve problem and duly struggled for form and fitness in 2013, so returned to amateur game. With confidence and sharpness restored, he took his chance back at York in 2014 so much so he is now team captain.
Jack Iley 22
Joined from Featherstone two years ago and, while being a bit-part first-teamer in 2013, he always impressed for the U20s. Had a luckless 2014 due to injuries when he appeared set for a run in the side. Has always maintained unstinting work-rate and attitude.
Jake Joynt 18
Former Wakefield youngster played a bit for York’s U20s in 2013 before joining Featherstone. Became a first-grade regular back at York in the first half of last season before taking time out due to work commitments.
Jay Leary 20
Steady away in three appearances for York towards the end of last season on loan from Batley. Came through the Leeds academy and will now be hoping to catch the eye in a full season in this tier.
Ryan Mallinder 11
Sharlston ARLC product signed in May 2013 after a successful trial. Rarely looked out of place in the Championship and certainly not in Championship One last year, where he and Ed Smith became arguably the most consistent second row in the division.
Greg Minikin 3
Still only 19, he was too good for most teams in the Under-20s Championship and performances in Championship One last year had some Super League scouts sniffing around. If he can avoid the niggling injuries that have hampered his progress, big things are expected.
Nev Morrison 5
Scored two tries in three games on loan at York from Sheffield in 2013, having lost his place in the Eagles team despite notching 16 in 25 to help the Eagles to the Championship crown in 2012. Scored eight in 19 for Doncaster in 2011 and was a regular back there last year, bagging seven in 19, as they took the Championship by storm.
Younger brother of former Knights favourite Matt, he was signed from Featherstone, for whom he impressed at under-19s level last year. It is hoped he too can be a regular line-breaker.
Josh Nicklin 26
Came through the ranks at Hull and impressed in their U19s last season. Said to read the game well and have safe hands and will hopefully push James Haynes hard for the number one role.
Jack Pickles 21
Arrived on trial two years ago after being player of the year at Milford ARLC. Won a contract and made debut in memorable win over league winners Featherstone in 2013. Has endured injury-hit time of it since but is hoping for a clean bill of health in 2015.
Jonny Presley 6
Nippy scrum-half has played for Featherstone, Keighley and, down under, with Fremantle and is in his second spell at York. Holds Knights best of six tries in a game, set in record 2011 Challenge Cup win over Northumbria University. Became third-choice half-back under Gary Thornton last year but looks like being a key man for James Ford this term.
Former Heworth ARLC junior and first-team starlet played one game for Knights reserves last year before being snapped up by Castleford’s academy on the recommendation of then Villagers coach Tim Rumford. Now back with home-town pro club, the Fulford School student is seen as a local star in the making.
Has had a successful trial at York after being released by Castleford. Has an air of confidence and hopes are high he has the attributes to match it and be a hit at this level.
Colton Roche 13
Ireland international made his name at Sheffield in 2013 after joining from Leeds, playing 19 times as the Eagles won the Championship. A move to Featherstone a year ago didn’t pay off but he rediscovered form and fire after May switch to the Knights and was named in the Championship One Team of the Year, also winning the club’s Moment of the Year gong for match-winning try at Hunslet that sealed the title. Rejected overtures from Championship clubs to stay at York.
Ed Smith 12
A local product, and the club’s then youngest-ever player in 2010, he seems to have been around for ages, with 69 first-team appearances already to his name, but is still only 22. One of the most consistent second-rows in Championship One last year and could yet get better.
Pat Smith 7
As quick with his wit as with his feet, he arrived at hometown club, to join younger brother Ed, a year ago after several seasons with Sheffield, where he was largely a back-up player for the then Championship champions. Became a favourite on and off the pitch and is now club captain.
Josh Tonks 15
Began his pro career as a stand-off cum loose-forward before evolving into a second-rower. Started out at Dewsbury, making his debut in 2009 before having a loan spell with Castleford, primarily in their academy. Became a Rams regular in 2011 and in total made 72 appearances before falling down the pecking order and making his way to York towards the end of last season.
Reserves/trialists: Steven Batty, Elliott Bulmer, James Casey, James Glover, Josh Hinchcliffe, George Mosey, Connor Page, Jordan Potter, Josh Poulter, Ryan Price, Ben Pulleyn, Joe Ramsden, Jordan Rice, Peter Starling, Jack Stewart, Adam Swift, Luke Tomlinson, Alex Wilkins.