HEAD coach James Ford has insisted York City Knights are not grumbling after learning their league campaign has been delayed - and are looking to improve on last year's start.

The Rugby Football League has put back the start of the Betfred Championship and League One campaigns "by several weeks" from the original kick-off date of late February because of the ongoing pandemic and its likely impact on fans returning.

Clubs in tiers two and three are set to find out more this weekend. Super League has already received a return date of March 25.

But for now, the Knights' eyes are on themselves and working towards improving on last year's Championship campaign, when - after a third-placed finish in 2019 - they found themselves without a point after four games.

Ford said: "I'd like to think we all watch the news and we're aware of what's happening in society. It's not good at the minute but to me, there's clearly light at the end of the tunnel. It doesn't matter how far they put the season back - we're not going to moan about it. It is what it is.

"We'll focus on what we can control and that's getting our preparation right, making sure we hit the ground running. We probably didn't quite get to the levels we wanted to at the start of 2020 and we're certainly looking to put that right this year."

In the meantime, Championship clubs have been cleared for 'stage one plus' training from today. This means socially-distanced, non-contact work.

There is some admin to do before clubs can commence such group sessions, during which players' responsibilities will be outlined before getting down to work.

Ford explained: "The first thing we'll do is assemble the players, do our first Covid test and reiterate our stance on Covid security, how serious it is and what role each person's got to play in it.

"Whether that be next week or the week after, we'll certainly be in soon and the boys will be raring to get back in, that's for sure.

"We've had more plans for pre-season than we've had hot dinners with the changes that have been thrown at us," he quipped.

"In the non-contact, socially-distanced sessions, the only things you'll be able to do is fitness work, socially-distanced skill work and possibly a little bit of unopposed team work just to really instil some things we're going to work on at a higher intensity in the near future.

"Gone are the days where you just spend six weeks running up and down a field.

"Obviously you've got an immense amount of fitness work to do and you've got to build big, powerful engines but players have got to know what they're doing and you've got to give them chance to do that."