JAMES FORD has hailed the impact of new assistant coach Brett Delaney during pre-season, praising the former Leeds Rhinos star's "fairly blunt" approach.

Delaney took his maiden first-team coaching role with York during the off-season, succeeding Jack Howieson who departed for rugby union club Sheffield Tigers.

The Australian had a hugely successful playing career, particularly in the Leeds forward pack, where he won eight major honours. The ex-back-rower also played around 80 times for Parramatta Eels and Gold Coast Titans in the NRL.

Having played at the pinnacle of the game, the move to the part-time Knights in the Betfred Championship represents a different challenge for Delaney but it is one that Ford is confident that he can meet.

“I know a couple of people who know Brett pretty well and I spoke to them and they hold him in pretty high regard," Ford explained of bringing on board the 36-year-old

“We had a chat and I felt like we had similar philosophies on certain things. But one thing about Brett is that he’s not shy about coming forward with his opinion and putting it (across) fairly bluntly, which is something that I think you need.

“You don’t always agree with your support staff but you do need them to come and tell you if they don’t agree with you.

“I’m not saying that that’s not been the case (previously) but it’s a strength of Brett’s. The standards that he’s been around as a player and the standards that he expects as a coach, they’re top class.

“He’s been pretty keen to remind the boys on the odd occasion that he felt that standards had dropped a little bit. I think he's had a real positive impact on our preparations.”

Upon the announcement of Delaney's arrival in November, it was revealed that Ford's number two would work primarily on defence.

Ford explained: "I oversee what we do but Brett goes home and thinks about defence and he comes to work and tells me about defence.

“We have some really good discussions around the defensive side of the game. Giving him that area to focus on will help the team. But it’s not a case of, ‘Off you go Brett, you do what you want’. It’s a collaboration.”