JAMES FORD hailed the performances of Myles Harrison and Toby Warren as “first class” after the pair made their Betfred Championship debuts for York City Knights.

The teenagers made an immediate impact in York’s 29-16 win at Newcastle Thunder in their first appearances in the second-tier.

Harrison made a stunning break from a kick return to set up Ben Jones-Bishop’s early try while Warren did not look at all out of place in the forward pack.

The former Heworth ARLFC youngsters have been around the York squad for several months and have had to be patient for opportunities, but they grasped them with two hands at Kingston Park.

“I’m really pleased to get the two points and I’m really proud of the performance,” said York head coach Ford.

“I’m absolutely chuffed for the two young men who made their Championship debuts and played 80 minutes to a very good level and had a real positive impact on the game.

“I’m excited by their potential.”

Given that Harrison and Warren are both 18, Ford explained that the pair, alongside fellow teenager AJ Towse, have been pushed more than most in training to bring them up to the speed of first-grade rugby league.

“The boys hold all three of them in really high regard because they train tremendously hard,” added Ford.

“They’ve done the same training as everyone else plus they’ve been topped up because they’ve not played.

“To have the mentality to get through that volume of training of that intensity and keep coming back for more, they’ve clearly got something about them.

“We’ve got to try and develop a robust athlete for the future. When you’re that age you can put a lot more work into a Myles Harrison or Toby Warren or AJ Towse compared to a Tim Spears.

“You’ve got to be careful with the likes of Tim Spears and Danny Kirmond and the amount of volume you put into them because you can break.

“Whereas you can put a lot of volume into these guys now so that when they’re older they’ll be very resilient and robust.

“It just means that they’ve got three or four hard sessions to do each week, which is not pleasant.

“But I’m really pleased with their mentality. How they performed was first-class.

“I came through and ended up playing in Super League. At 17 or 18 years of age, I couldn’t have played in the Championship to that level, I was nowhere near.

“I’m proud as punch for them.”

Given that Harrison, Towse and Warren are all York-born players, Ford hopes that the trio can inspire others in the city to see the pathway through the Knights first-team through their efforts.

“The likes of Will Leatt and Adam Prentis do a great work with the Excel programme," Ford continued.

"Those guys were in the Excel and they stood out based upon their attitudes.

“That attitude has seen them invited to train with the first-team and that attitude has seen them improve massively.

“They’ve shown an amazing attitude towards hard work and development.

“This is the first step on the ladder for them and I’m sure there’s a lot more to come from them so long as they keep working hard.”

Harrison did pull up with cramp towards the end of the game, which is understandable given the amount of distance he covered from full-back.

“That’s his first 80 minutes in the Championship. And going from playing full-back for Heworth Under-16s and playing full-back in the Championship, it’s like playing two different sports

“There’s so much more that you are responsible for. Myles will have covered about 10km at full-back which is probably an eye-opener.”