PAULI PAULI will make his long-awaited first York City Knights appearance this weekend, head coach James Ford has confirmed.

York’s capture of Pauli over the off-season has been one of the Betfred Championship’s most eye-catching signings over the off-season.

Arriving from 2019 Betfred Super League Grand Finalists Salford Red Devils, the towering 6ft 4in forward brings significant pedigree through spells at NRL clubs Parramatta Eels and Newcastle Knights.

The 27-year-old was rested for the Knights’ 46-6 pre-season win over Midlands Hurricanes last week but will feature for the first time on Sunday (3pm) against Castleford Tigers.

“We will definitely see Pauli, he will play,” Ford revealed.

“I can’t wait because I’ve never coached a player like him.

“I’m just probably most pleased that I’ve not got to tackle him,” he laughed.

“He is so powerful and he is so skilful. He reminds me a little bit of Ali Lauit’iti with some of the stuff that he’s done in training.

“I tried to play against Ali Lauit’iti once and I think I came about third or fourth in that contest,” Ford laughed.

“Some of the stuff that he (Pauli) has done in training, with his footwork and skill, I didn’t know that he had that in his game.

“He is just such a quality player and I’m really looking forward to getting him out on the field and getting him ready for Featherstone.”

York’s clash with Castleford is their final pre-season friendly before the Betfred Championship season opener at home to Featherstone Rovers on January 31.

Asked whether the Tigers match is a chance for players to compete for starting places, Ford replied: “Absolutely.

“That’s been one consistent theme since I’ve been at the club, the players pick the team from how they play, how they train and how they behave, it all contributes.

“Some people put their hands up last week and I thought there were some really strong individual performances.

“I’m undecided still (on my best team) and I’m always open to changing my mind. I think that’s one thing that a coach has got to be, is willing to change their mind based on what you see in front of you.

“Things can change as we’ve seen over the past year with injury and illness. Everyone is competing for a place.

“The season won’t be won or lost in round one and the players’ season won’t be defined on whether they play in round one or not.

“There’s 20-odd rounds and they’ll be judged on that, as will the whole team.”

Captain Chris Clarkson will have to wait for his first match of the year due to a calf strain, which will be scanned as a precaution.

Ford also confirmed that half-back Brendan O’Hagan would not play against Castleford as he returns to full fitness, with Ronan Dixon and Sam Davis still sidelined.

Matty Marsh and Joe Brown will play against Castleford, while Jack Logan has a strong chance of featuring.

All three were absent from the Midlands game under the coronavirus protocols.