BRENDAN O’HAGAN has admitted that there is added expectation on him following Morgan Smith’s season-ending injury.

York City Knights revealed that Smith, their off-season recruit from London Broncos, had last month suffered a ruptured ACL, which is likely to see him miss the entire 2021 season.

The Knights have since loaned in Warrington Wolves youngster Riley Dean, a 19-year-old prospect who displayed his talent in a wonderful opening try he created and scored in last week’s 28-22 pre-season defeat to Hull FC.

Despite being just 22 years old, O’Hagan is the more senior of the likely half-back pairing and concedes that he carries some added responsibility on his shoulders.

“Yeah, a little bit but not too much,” said O’Hagan when asked if there is now extra pressure.

“Riley Dean has come into the side and Matty Marsh can play in the halves too. I think with the depth that we’ve now got at the club, it’s not as bad. Obviously, you can’t replace Morgan Smith, he’s an outstanding player.

“But, Riley is a great young half coming through and he’s looking forward to stepping up into that role and playing.

“Marshy can step up too. He’s played Super League before and we all know what he can do.

“I think now it’s about getting our game right because we haven’t played too much in the halves together, only in training.

“I think it’s about working together and finding our strengths.”

On Smith’s injury, the Australian added: “It was shattering. It was a real shame for someone who loves the game and was going to be a real asset to the side to go down with such an injury.

“It’s going to be tough for him and it will be a tough time. But, we’ve got to get around him and hope that’s alright.

“He’s a tough and strong-minded person so he’ll bounce back, I’m sure. He loves his footy, so there’s a lot more we’ll see of him.”

O’Hagan was full of praise for Dean, his likely half-back partner when the Knights face Sheffield Eagles in round one of the Betfred Challenge Cup on Friday (7.30pm).

“He’s got a great attitude, he loves his footy and he’s a great ball-carrier. He threatens the line really well and rips in with his defence.

“He’s going to be a class player if he keeps working as hard as he does.”

On Dean’s try, he commented: “For a 19-year-old to come in, only train with us for a few weeks and be confident enough to do that - taking it down the short side and produce that pass down the left edge - I think that shows he’s got a big future ahead of him.”

Albeit in a pre-season friendly, O’Hagan earned plenty of plaudits from the Hull fixture, being picked as the Man of the Match by the club, Our League and League Express.

The Australian though was quick to downplay the personal accolades, insisting that the result was the all-important matter.

“That was good,” said a modest O’Hagan. “I thought that the boys laid a really good platform. In the second half, we had a bit more free-flowing footy and got over the advantage line a little bit more, whereas in the first half, we were a bit more clunky.

“We didn’t do much goal-line attack but as the season starts we’ll look to transition into that.

“It’s also about turning up for your mate and making those tackles that you don’t want to make, it’s all those one per-centers.

“Early in the pre-season, it was about setting those foundations and now it’s about smoothing those out and making sure that coming into the season, we’re firing.

“Obviously, it’s good to get the recognition, but for me, there was a lot of people on the field who could have been in the same boat and I think it was (a name) being pulled out of the hat from a lot of players.

“For me, first and foremost, it’s about winning and I know the other boys are thinking the exact same.”