BEN COCKAYNE enjoyed his new lease of life at half-back so much he is looking to nail down that role on a permanent basis next year.

York City Knights' veteran former Hull KR star switched from the back line to stand-off in the first few months of last season, ostensibly as the club sought a recognised play-making partner for Connor Robinson.

But the move by head coach James Ford proved a masterstroke, working so well that both players went on to be shortlisted for the League One Player of the Year award as the team stormed to a stunning title triumph, pipping huge odds-on favourites Bradford Bulls to the crown thanks to a remarkable 15-match winning sequence.

That run, of course, included an edge-of-the-seat 30-28 victory at Odsal in which Cockayne crucially got on the scoresheet.

And the 35-year-old - who penned a new one-year deal with York in September having become a firm fan favourite in his first season at Bootham Crescent - reckons the pair can take that form into the Betfred Championship in 2019.

"I think I will make a half-back," said Cockayne, when asked if he expected to revert to the wing or full-back next year, having spent the bulk of his top-flight career with Rovers and Wakefield in those roles.

"I enjoyed it and I thought I did a decent job last season.

"I know it's a different ball game when you move up a division.

"But I think I've got the experience and the capability to do a job in the Championship."

He quipped: "If I don't, I'm sure Fordy will shove me elsewhere - 18th man maybe."

Cockayne, a veteran of over 200 games in two stints at Hull KR, plus a half-century of matches with Wakefield, played 27 times for York last season, scoring 11 tries, including a hat-trick at Hemel.

He added of the play-making position: "I enjoyed it and it gives me an opportunity to get more involved. Because of the experience I've got, I'm in a position where I can contribute to how the game is run.

"Basically, over the years I've played, I've built a good understanding of the game and I can pass that on from a more pivotal position than, say, being on the wing yelling at people."

Cockayne is getting used to new roles at the Knights off the field too - having recently taken on a commercial and sponsorship sales post, something he also did for a while when at Hull KR.

This fits in with his other new job as well - that of being dad to seven-week-old Molly, wife Claire having given birth on October 17.

"It's great," he said of fatherhood, notwithstanding the broken sleeps. "The job is flexible so that really helps and makes things easier for me and Claire. It's all going well."

The same can be said for pre-season training, which is now into its fourth week.

Cockayne reasoned: "It's been good. The players that have been brought in have settled right in and the quality of the training has been great.

"It's nowhere near where it will be come the beginning of the season but, two or three weeks in, we've not had a bad session yet.

"I won't say it's been perfect but the standard has been very good so far.

"We're definitely in front compared to this time last year. The core of the team has been kept, which helps, and the togetherness and that side of stuff is there and is very solid.

"The quality of the boys who have come in has also helped."

Those newcomers to Bootham Crescent include centre Liam Salter, fellow backs Kevin Brown and Jason Bass, and forwards Ross Osborne, Jack Blagbrough, Jack Teanby and Marcus Stock. Looking at the pack in particular, Cockayne believes the Knights are in a good position to handle the expected rule change for 2019 which will see the number of permitted interchanges going down from 10 to eight - making for longer stints for the forwards.

"I think we've got a good balance, particularly with the new interchange rule. The way Fordy has recruited, that (rule) could play in our favour because, looking at the forwards, he's brought in guys who are fit, mobile and in good shape.

"I think we will give ourselves a really good chance this year."