"MAY the best man win to get in the team."

So said York City Knights playmaker Liam Harris on the battle for a starting spot in the halves for the 2022 season.

Following a difficult season at half-back last year, York recruited Harris and Jamie Ellis, from fellow Betfred Championship promotion chasers Halifax Panthers and Leigh Centurions respectively, during the off-season.

The duo, who return to James Ford's side after past spells on loan, will complement existing half Brendan O'Hagan in the position, while full-back Matty Marsh is more-than-capable cover.

The three-way battle between the trio is set to begin at the end of the month in the Knights' Betfred Championship season opener at home to Featherstone Rovers at the LNER Community Stadium and it is a challenge that Harris is relishing.

“If one of us goes down, then the quality we’ve got in the halves, I’m not sure that there’s many other (Championship) teams that will have that," said the former Hull KR and Hull FC man.

“It gives Fordy a good headache compared last year where I think he struggled a little bit with his halves.

“It’s really good competition, it makes training that more competitive because you want to make sure that you’re in the team every week.

“I love that and I thrive off that. So may the best man win to get in the team and do their best for the team.”

In York's opening pre-season friendly of the year, a 46-6 victory over Midlands Hurricanes on Friday, Harris and Ellis were the starting pair, with O'Hagan continuing his recovery from injury.

“When I first came through at Hull KR, Jamie was there and he was the starting half," recalled Harris.

"We went to Tenerife on a pre-season camp and I roomed with him, so I got to know him really well.

“He’s a fantastic bloke and a great player. He will just get better and better the more he plays.

“Once we start coming up against tougher opposition, his skill will start to show more than ever.”

Having had two previous successful spells at York on loan, Harris marked his return to the club with a man-of-the-match display against Midlands.

The 24-year-old scored two tries and bagged two assists against the Betfred League One outfit.

“I was happy to get two but I would have liked three,” Harris laughed. “But I’ll take two for my first game back.

"I’m absolutely over the moon to be back (at the club), very grateful to be wearing the shirt again and playing with this group of boys as well.

“Hopefully I can kick on now and keep on improving because I don’t think that I was near my best.”

The friendly against the Hurricanes, Harris revealed, was his first time at the LNER Community Stadium.

“I was a little bit shocked by it because it is outstanding," he enthused.

“You hear other people talk about it all the time but until you’re here and can actually see the facilities that it holds, you don’t see how breathtaking it is, especially for a Championship club, to have this ground.”

Reflecting on the club's former home, Bootham Crescent, Harris laughed: “Here all of the seats actually work and aren’t wooden.

“But I loved playing at Bootham, the atmosphere was fantastic and we had some really good memories there.

“Some of my best memories (were there), like when we beat Toronto, so I’ll always remember that stadium for the right reasons.”

Prior to Harris' third debut at York, the half-back was jovially reintroduced to supporters at November's fans' forum as "James Ford's son".

He explained: “That started in 2017, carried on 2019 and it looks like it’s stuck (now), doesn’t it?

“We’ve got a really good relationship and there’s a lot of mutual respect both ways, which is great.

“He really cares for his players and really buys into what he wants to do for us.

“It’s good to have a coach that cares and respects you, not just rugby-wise, but on a personal level too.”