MATTY MARSH believes that York City Knights need to be beating sides like Toulouse Olympique if they are to achieve their ultimate aim of promotion to Betfred Super League.

For the second year running, York begin their season against promotion favourites Toulouse, hosting the French side at the LNER Community Stadium (4.30pm).

Ranked by the bookmakers as the team to be beat, the Knights have been handed arguably the most difficult start.

But Marsh thinks that these are the games that York need to be winning if they are intent on securing a place in the top-flight.

“Toulouse have been tipped to be promoted from the Championship so it’s one of the biggest games that we can play this season," said the 25-year-old.

“It’s going to be a good test for us early on because we’re pushing for promotion as well and these are the teams that we’re going have to beat on a weekly basis.

“They’ve made some good signings since last year and they’ve always had a good team in the last few years that we’ve played them.

“We played them in the first game last season and we narrowly lost to them. That’s a little bit of extra motivation for us to get the win this weekend.”

Marsh, who looks set to return to full-back against Toulouse, may have his work cut out defensively against a team renowned for their free-flowing and expansive offence.

“That’s probably what they’re known for is their expansive game," added Marsh. "We’ve just got to stick to our defence and make sure that we’re focusing on stopping them playing how they want to play and keeping to our system.

“They’ve got a lot of trick plays as well, which they focus their game around and they’re not your standard play-for-play side, they try different things.

“I’ve definitely got to be on my game for those, if I do play in that full-back role."

The former Hull Kingston Rovers star has covered for the ineligible Riley Dean in the halves for the start of this season, the role he began his career playing.

“When I first came to York, Fordy put me at full-back and I’ve played there for the majority of my time here and I’ve only played a couple of games at half-back,” continued Marsh.

“It’s been a weird one getting back into it and getting used to the way of playing as a half-back again.

“Having played there a lot in the academy, it came back a little naturally but I thought I was a little rusty still!”

On whether he sees himself featuring at full-back long-term, Marsh was typically diplomatic, replying: “It all depends on what Fordy wants and what’s best for the team.

“We’ve got a lot of good quality in the team now and there’s competition for places, so it all depends on form and how each of us is playing.

“I’ll do my best to get the full-back role, but we’ll see how it goes.”

Whatever position Marsh is deployed in, he is happy to be back out on the field after a year off amid the coronavirus pandemic. It was the first time in a decade that he spent any prolonged period away from the sport.

“I think I’ve played in practically every season since I was 14 so it was a bit weird having a full year out," he said.

“I’ve had a couple of months out before with a knee injury but nothing like a full season. It’s been weird not being in that routine of training and playing, so it’s definitely good to be back.

“Because I’ve played for so long, it’s come back to me quite quickly and we’ve had a long, decent pre-season as well.

“Our fitness is right up there as a team and, for me, this has been one of the toughest pre-seasons I’ve ever had as a player. That has put us in good stead to jump back into things quite well.”