YORK City Knights have given fans news they wanted - pack leader Graeme Horne is staying at the club in 2019.

Talks with the former Hull KR prop forward have been ongoing for some time but the club have confirmed agreement has now been reached and signed off, bolstering the team's forward nous yet further just 48 hours after the recruitment of big Jack Blagbrough from Leigh Centurions.

Horne has, however, forfeited his assistant-coach role due to new work commitments outside of rugby - but head coach Ford reckons his influence around the club will still be "immense" on and off the field.

"Graeme will be immensely important to us, just as he was last year," said Ford.

"He brings a wealth of experience and intelligence. He's a real calming influence and off the field he's really helped people like (captain) Tim Spears to set the standards at the club during our preparations, which had a massive impact on our performances last year.

"He's going to be a player only this year - a senior player. That's no reflection on his coaching ability but more his changing circumstances away from the game.

"He has to work through the day and has not got time to do what I would have needed him to do. It was his own decision, it's not been taken away from him.

"But he will still be a huge influence on the younger players and the coaching staff.

"We've got an immense amount of respect for him, whether he carries the assistant-coach tag or not. He has a big impact on what we do on and off the field."

Horne, 33, led from the front this year and scored nine tries in 23 games as York beat odds-on favourites Bradford Bulls to a stunning League One title triumph and automatic promotion to the Championship.

He previously made more than 250 Super League appearances with Hull FC, Huddersfield Giants and Hull KR prior to joining the Knights a year ago.

Asked whether the veteran performer had another big year in him, Ford said: "I would not have entertained re-signing him if he was not still hungry for rugby league.

"He absolutely loves the game and he's still really hungry to kick on and perform to a higher level than previously.

"That is such a positive influence on everyone. He's a bloke who's played 200-300 Super League games and is still trying to get better - that sends out such a positive message."

He added: "I'm delighted Graeme is staying. He brought an immense amount of skill and intelligence to our middle unit. He still has a huge appetite for rugby and is still keen to develop further.

"I was delighted by the impact he had on a heap of players at the club last year and I’m excited to see that again this season."

Meanwhile, Ford revealed that, although Horne was ceding assistant-coaching duties, he was unlikely to be replaced in the boot room at this stage.

"For now we will keep it as it is," he said.

Ford, who turned full-time this autumn, will continue to be assisted by number two Chris Spurr, team manager Will Leatt, and conditioner Mark Helme.

Horne is the 24th player to be officially signed on for next year.

The list in full is: full-backs/half-backs Ben Cockayne and Matty Marsh; full-backs/wingers Ash Robson and Matt Chilton; wingers Judah Mazive and Kevin Brown; centres Brad Hey, Liam Salter and Perry Whiteley; utility back Jason Bass; half-back Connor Robinson; hookers Harry Carter and Will Jubb; props Graeme Horne, Jack Blagbrough, Ross Osborne, Ronan Dixon and Jack Teanby; back-rows Sam Scott, Josh Jordan-Roberts, Mike Kelly and Marcus Stock, and loose-forwards Tim Spears and Joe Porter.