LIAM JACKSON reckons he has improved “dramatically” in his short time at York City Knights - and is now desperate to prove he can perform in the pro arena.

The former Heworth ARLC junior had a successful trial at his home town club over the winter and enjoyed an excellent debut in the 64-6 Challenge Cup win over Askam last Saturday.

He would have made his League One bow yesterday, too, having kept his place in the team for the trip to Coventry, only for the game to be postponed due to the arctic weather.

The 22-year-old half-back is aware he has it all on to nail down a regular berth, though, especially with the Knights looking for another playmaker and also having dual-reg options at partner club Hull KR, and it remains to be seen if he will feature in the tough run of upcoming fixtures, starting at Oldham next Sunday.

But he has vowed to continue working to impress, and will also gladly go back to Heworth on dual-reg, too, should he miss out on Knights selection.

“I’m really enjoying it,” said Jackson of his time at the club so far. “Pre-season was tough but it’s been good and I really enjoyed last weekend playing in the Challenge Cup game.

“The squad is really good. I think we will do well this year.

“I feel I’ve improved dramatically. I’ve never really had that kind of setting or structure. I’ve never been exposed to it. It’s great to be involved.

“There are fantastic characters in the squad, such as Ben Cockayne and Graeme Horne. A lot of the older boys help you out and want to see you do well and I hope it’s rubbing off.”

Jackson admitted not expecting a deal when he first set foot in the Knights’ training base, but, having since signed for the season, is now hoping to get into double figures in appearances.

“I didn’t have much to lose really,” he explained of his trial. “I thought I’d go down and give it a go and I did enough to get the offer.

“I'd like to get a certain amount of games, maybe 10. I think I’d be chuffed with that, and when I do play I’ll try to impress James Ford (head coach) and the boys and show I’m worthy of playing at that level. I wouldn’t mind scoring one or two tries either.

“I’d love to get in some of those (upcoming) games. I’m just going to keep training hard and if I keep playing like last week then hopefully why not.

“But dual-reg provides more competition for places. You’ve got to prove you’re good enough to play. I’m sure the club will be on the lookout for another half-back, after Brad Delaney left. There’s only me and Connor (Robinson) as recognised half-backs now and nobody is going to play 28 games.”

He added: “I’ve been in touch still with Scott Rhodes (Heworth coach) and when I’m not picked for York I will play down there. I enjoy playing rugby anyway and I have a lot of mates there. I would want to get some game-time and also try to help Heworth.”

Jackson began playing at the Villagers aged seven and returned to the regular side last summer after graduating from Loughborough University, going on to represent York & District ARL on tour and being named Player of the Year for the city’s amateur scene.

He has designs on becoming a teacher and currently works in a school for disabled adults, but is keen to progress his rugby league career too.

“The York & District concept is fantastic,” he said. “I really enjoyed it and enjoyed meeting those lads. It brings the clubs together. You could have certain opinions of Acorn lads, for example, or they have opinions of Heworth, and once you meet them and play alongside them you all get on and see they’re good lads.”

He added; “I’d love to spend a couple of years in the pro game and see how I get on, and go from there.

“In terms of intensity and commitment, there’s a significant difference. There are boys in the amateur game that could rise to that standard. It’s whether you have the right mental side. You have to be willing to work and learn and take things on board, and that's what I'm trying to do.”