CHRIS CLARKSON is dropping down a tier to play for York City Knights this season, but he is insisted that there will be no let up in the level of his performances.

Despite playing 20 times for Castleford last year - including an appearance in the Super League play-offs - Clarkson was released by the Tigers during the off-season.

The versatile forward is one of seven new recruits to join the York squad, all of whom have past experience in the top flight.

The switch sees the 29-year-old make the switch from full-time to part-time rugby league, yet he vowed that his level of performance will remain at its previous high standards - starting with this evening's Betfred Championship season opener at Toulouse Olympique (5pm).

"I've played in the Championship before and by no means is it an easy league," said Clarkson.

"Going part-time and playing part-time rugby league, is a different challenge for me.

"But, I don't see it as a step down.

"I won't be playing any lesser rugby than I have been.

"I'm still the same player and I'll still be performing to the same ability."

York are thought to have beaten off competition from several other clubs in order to secure the signing of Clarkson.

Explaining how the move came about, Clarkson expressed his immediate attraction to the club who have enjoyed a rapid rise in recent seasons.

"When I found out that Castleford weren't keeping me, obviously I had to look somewhere," he continued.

"And, York was one of the first teams that were available to me.

"I just jumped straight into it.

"Both the club and the city are fantastic.

"And it was a move that I was really looking forward to and I signed the contract almost straight away."

York's pre-season campaign has seen them face their potential play-off rivals, coming up against Halifax, Featherstone Rovers and Bradford Bulls.

No wins were produced during the three matches, but Clarkson doesn't believe the Knights are far away from reaching their required levels.

"We've watched the video from the previous games and we have done some really good stuff in there," he said.

"There are some things to work on. And I don't think that those things to work on aren't things that can't be done in the next two or three weeks or so.

"We've had a good pre-season on the training pitch and in the gym.

"And I think that everybody is physically and mentally ready for the game.

"I think everybody's really looking forward to it.

"We're as prepared as we can be for the game.

"It's going to be interesting to see how we get on.

"It's an exciting time.

"I finished the previous season at the back end of September last year, so it is a long time without a competitive game where there's two points up for grabs.

"There is excitement there (in the squad) and probably a few nerves too."

"Toulouse are a great team, they've been in and around the play-offs for the last three years, which shows a lot of consistency.

"I know what they're about, they're a very expansive team who are really exciting to watch.

"I've been over there before so I know what to expect to some extent."