JAMES FORD insisted that York City Knights “never lost faith” in Brendan O’Hagan, who marked his return to the team with a hat-trick in the 34-20 win over Widnes Vikings.

The half-back had played just two of York’s previous 14 games, due to a series of injury and coronavirus-related concerns, heading into the Widnes clash.

But the Australian showed no signs of rustiness as bagged a treble of tries and assisted another in a pivotal win for the Knights.

Having been brought in as an unknown quantity to outsiders from down under, question marks have surrounded O’Hagan, but Ford stressed that he always had the backing of the club.

“I thought Brendan O’Hagan has shown us what we’ve been missing,” said the York head coach.

“We’ve waited a long time to get a half-back out there who understands the game as well as he does. He plays with control and patience.

“And at the same time, he’s got the ability to unlock defences. I’m chuffed for him because he’s a young boy and he’s come a long way and it must be difficult for him being injured.

“I’m really pleased for him that he’s performed to that level.

“We’ve never lost faith in Brendan. He’s been really frustrated, but not quite as frustrated as I’ve been.

“If you combine him with Matty Marsh, Corey Johnson, Will Jubb, Kriss Brining - the spine of the team - it’s a completely different level.”

There is still plenty more to come from O’Hagan, who barely put in a high kick, with Marsh instead taking that responsibility.

“That was because he’s come back off a quad tear,” explained Ford. “That was a conscious decision and Marshy can float at both sides and dominate the kicking.

“When Brendan is 100 per cent, he can dominate our play fives. But, with how things have gone this season, we tried to air on side of caution.

“He’s got through the game and he looked sharp, so I reckon he’s ready to go (now).”