DANNY WASHBROOK believes York City Knights’ tough pre-season will see them “hardened” up ahead of the new season.

The Knights took on Challenge Cup holders Leeds Rhinos in an opposed training session last week and face Betfred Super League giants Hull FC in a friendly at the LNER Community Stadium this evening (7.30pm).

While some Betfred Champion-ship sides are not playing any friendlies before competitive action resumes later this month, Washbrook is glad the Knights have faced top-quality opposition ahead of the restart.

“The Leeds session was good,” said Washbrook. “I’ve done those sorts of things before and it’s good to come up against other teams in pre-season.

“When you’re playing against each other, everybody knows what type of plays you’re using and how you defend, so going against another team that doesn’t know your style certainly helps.

“We got a lot out of the session against Leeds and hopefully they did as well. It wasn’t full-on but it wasn’t touch-and-pass either.

“You still wake up sore the next day.

“I think it’s certainly better to go into the season after a tough workout rather than nothing. It’s good to go in hardened up against tough opponents because when it comes to round one (of the Championship) we’re playing a very good team (Toulouse).”

Hull-born Washbrook made over 200 appearances in his 11 seasons at Hull FC across two spells. He appeared in the Black and Whites sides which won back-to-back Challenge Cups in 2016 and 2017 - the club’s first pieces of major silverware in over a decade.

The 35-year-old said: “I played there for a long time, for seven years the first time and then four more after leaving Wakefield. In those first seven years, I played in a Grand Final and a Challenge Cup. We unfortunately lost them both, but they were great experiences.

“Going back to the club and winning the Challenge Cup two years on the trot was unreal and something that I will remember for the rest of my life.

“It was a surreal 12 months, from 2015 to 2016. In 2015, I spent the year at Wakefield and we were down at the bottom playing in the Million Pound Game and 12 months later I was at Wembley winning the Challenge Cup.”

The game will see Washbrook face his former side for the first time since moving to York last year.

He added: “I don’t have any grudges that I hold and I still get along with the people at the club.

“I’m just looking forward to playing. It doesn’t really matter that it’s Hull, it could have been anybody and I’d still be looking forward to it the same.

“If anything, I’m more likely to get a bit of mud rubbed in my face or the odd elbow, than in a normal game, so I’m probably not looking forward to it now," he laughed.

The visit of Hull will be the first chance to witness several of York’s new additions, the majority of whom have arrived from Super League clubs. Washbrook expressed his excitement at the quality in the group.

He said: “There’s a lot of Super League experience in the group now. There was a fair amount already there anyway, like myself, Liam Salter, Matty Marsh, James Green, Chris Clarkson.

“Now we’ve added even more experience with Danny Kirmond, Adam Cuthbertson, Ryan Atkins, Kieran Dixon and Ben Jones-Bishop – there’s plenty.

“That’s only going to help us as a team. Training has been good, but it’s hard to compare it to last year, because of the time off.

“Fordy (James Ford) is a hard taskmaster and if he thinks you’ve trained poorly, he’ll tell you. I don’t think he’s told us that many times this year, compared to this point last year, so I’ll take that as a win for the lads.”