THOUGH this season may not have gone to plan, retiring forward Danny Washbrook believes that York City Knights are well set for the future.

Washbrook, a veteran of more than 300 appearances in Super League, announced last week that he will retire at the end of the season.

He joined York ahead of the cancelled 2020 season and has since made 19 appearances for the side.

After a hugely positive 2019 Betfred Championship season, in which the Knights finished third, there was plenty of optimism going into 2021.

But an injury-strewn campaign will see the Knights finish outside the play-off places, a fact confirmed after defeat to Bradford Bulls with three rounds to go.

Yesterday, the Knights were scheduled a trip to table-toppers Toulouse Olympique but did not travel.

“It’s been a difficult one all round,” Washbrook said. “We’ve got a really good team and we haven’t performed anywhere near as good as we should have this year.

“At the beginning of the season, we were talking about being in the top three and it’s just not been the way it’s gone.

“If you look at the early games against Toulouse and Featherstone. I don’t think anybody else has run Toulouse as close as we did and, if Riley kicks the drop goal against Featherstone, we win that game rather than a charge-down try.

“It’s one of them, that game could have changed everything. We’ve put in some good performances and some not so good performances, though, so we’re probably where we deserve to be.”

He continued: “I think the club has a really bright future coming. James Ford is obviously an excellent coach and the club has a stadium that matches its aspirations. They do everything well – good marketing, a good corporate and commercial side and I think that York is a place that, if it really takes hold of rugby league, could have a really good team and set-up.

“Some of the players that the club has got, from the York area and other areas as well, can really thrive and it would be great to see York take the step up in the next few years.”

Washbrook’s versatility has been particularly valuable for the Knights this season. During a campaign littered with lengthy injury absences across the squad, the Hull-born forward has played in the halves, at hooker, in the back row and at loose forward.

“I know Fordy has been trying to come up with the best formula and sometimes that has meant not playing, sometimes it’s meant playing out of position,” Washbrook continued.

“I think we’ve had over 20 different people play full-back, half-back and nine this year – I think I’ve played three out of the four as well – so it has been difficult all round but I’m used to playing different positions.”

Heading into retirement, Washbrook says he is looking forward to spending more time with his family, and discusses the possibility of a future in coaching in rugby league.

“I’ve been involved with the game for 16 seasons and it takes its toll on you as a player but also on your family,” he said. “You don’t get to go on holidays in the summer like everyone else, your weekend’s plans can change depending on when the game takes place.

“It can be hard at times and then, at the end of the season, you get your six weeks off when the kids are at school and it’s cold and dark. It’s going to be great to be able to spend a bit of time with the family in the summer.

“I do enjoy coaching, I did it for about 10 years here and there at amateur teams so it might be something later down the line but not yet.”

For the time being, his coaching thoughts are on a different sport.

“Both my sons play football and I actually coach the younger lad’s (under-8s) team,” Washbrook explained. “They play on a Sunday and sometimes I’ve had to miss it because we obviously play on a Sunday and, with coaching the youngest one, I very rarely get to see the older one play.

“At the weekend, he got Players’ Player of the Year and I nearly welled up because I was that proud of him because I know how hard he works and he always moans that I never get to go see him. Before we set off, I said to my wife that I’d love it if he won something so I was really proud that he did.

“Being able to have time with them, to take them places and do stuff will be great.”