GIVEN that York City Knights matches have been suspended indefinitely amid the coronavirus pandemic, we decided to get to know some of the figures who work behind the scenes at the Knights, starting with team manager Will Leatt.

How did you first get involved with the Knights?

“The role came about through work experience initially. I asked the club (in 2013) if there were any coaching opportunities available and that was when I first met Fordy.

“We were coaching the Under-20s side together when we had that set-up.

“After my work experience was up, Fordy asked if I could stay until the end of the season and if I’d be involved for the season after, so that was when the team manager role was created.

“I started to work with the first-team and I was looking after the logistical stuff really. Making sure that we had everything that we needed for training, booking buses and looking after the admin. I’d be contact with the RFL pretty often as well.

“Anything that Fordy didn’t fancy doing was passed on to me!”

How much have things changed since 2013?

“I think from when Fordy was made head coach to now, things have been quite consistent.

“The team ethos, how we train and the style in which we try to play, has all remained quite familiar.

“Of course, there’s been a turnover of players and staff during that time and it’s been great to work with different people.

“At first, we were slowly starting to progress, but over the last few years we’ve taken some real strides forward.”

Prior to lockdown, what was a normal week for you?

“Since October, I’ve been working full-time with the Foundation, so I’ve been in and out of schools, during school time and after school clubs, delivering coaching sessions.

“I’m also coaching the York St Johns men’s rugby league team, then I’ll have coaching with the Knights first-team.

“It can be quite full on.

“From a first-team perspective, it’s about making sure that we’ve got everything that we need for training through the week, so that means looking through the video reviews, having one-to-one conversations with players where we can.

“This year we’ve been able to go through individual clips with the lads from previous games and have a discussion about their involvement to help them develop and get a closer look at their performance, rather than the team performance.

“That’s been a really good addition.”

You’re usually sitting next to James on a matchday. How is that?

“It’s good to get that insight and understand what he sees and how quickly he sees things that we’re are and aren’t doing well.

“My main role is taking down stats that we can feed back to the players at half-time and throughout the game and to look back on after the game.

“That may offer a reason why things didn’t work out as we wanted and means that we can look for links and patterns.

“So, I’ll be looking at exit sets, coming away from our own line, the completion of our sets, penalties for and against, handling errors.

“Also, looking at where the opposition are kicking the ball from and how we can restrict their metres.

“Feeding those stats back to Fordy helps him gain a fuller picture of what’s going on in the game and helps him clarify his message to the players.”

What’s the atmosphere like? Is it quite measured or pretty stressful?

“Fordy has got better, he was very hot-headed when he first started and he’s aware of that.

“This season, he’s been checking in with me and saying ‘Am I calm? Am I being calm?’

“He’s very aware of how to get his messages across to players and the team. Ranting and raving isn’t always the best way to make people focus on details.

“Most of the time it is calm. There are moments where it’s not.

“I used to wear the headset and speak to Spurry (Chris Spurr, assistant coach) on the bench. “Fordy would pass me a message and it would often need changing from a foul-mouthed rant into something more useful (laughs)”.

And, how have you found working for the Foundation?

“It’s good to get out and about as a Knights employee and try and spread our presence throughout the city.

“So far it’s been really well received. You’ve got kids that play rugby league at their community clubs who are really excited when you come and then there’s others that don’t know anything about rugby, but they still enjoy the sessions.

“It’s a good environment to work in and I think the Foundation has gone from strength to strength since Jon (Flatman) came to the club in 2017. We’ve won Foundation of the Year and Club of the Year. The Foundation plays a massive part in the appearance of the club.

“It’s not just about the first-team’s results, it’s about the work that we do in the community as well.”