YORK-BASED Hunslet prop Dan Briggs reckons his hometown team will be one the Hawks' chief rivals for the National League Two title.

Briggs, a product of Heworth ARLC, believes that although York City Knights are currently out of the play-off picture they will soon be up there with unbeaten leaders Keighley as the Hawks' main competition for promotion.

York go into tomorrow's big game at South Leeds Stadium in seventh place after six games, five points behind second-placed Hunslet and a further two behind the Cougars.

But Briggs, who once had a short spell at Huntington Stadium, believes they are on the up.

"I was surprised with the poor start to the league season they had but they've been winning recently and they've found a few more players to strengthen the squad," he told the Evening Press.

"I think York, Keighley and ourselves will be the three main teams, and possibly Sheffield as well.

"But it's a very competitive league with a lot of hard teams in there. We played London Skolars and Gateshead, who people expected to be whipping boys, and they put up a really good fight so every team is a tough team."

He added: "We've got a very good chance of getting into the Grand Final. Our goal is to go up and with that in mind we're taking every game as it comes and playing it like it's a cup final. We're putting everything into getting promoted."

Briggs is hoping to return to first-team action tomorrow having been left out of the 17 recently.

"We've got a big squad and the coach has been trying players out and mixing things up," he said. "I've been on the bench quite a bit but I've missed out in the last couple of weeks so hopefully I will be back in this week.

"I played against York last year when it was the Wasps and I scored a try so it was quite a good day for me. You try your best in every game but you always have it in the back of your mind that you want to do well against your hometown team, so hopefully I'll be given the chance."

Briggs' fellow Hawks forward, Craig Ibbotson, is the latest casualty for coach Roy Sampson, having suffered a bad shoulder injury playing for the National League under-21s side against the Super League equivalent this week.

Sampson was able to sign Dewsbury forward Chris Parker after the Rams released him last weekend and he could step into the breach.

Updated: 10:22 Saturday, June 14, 2003