MARQUEE signing Ben Cockayne has completed his first full week of pre-season at York City Knights - and says it has reaffirmed his belief that signing for the Minster city club was a "no-brainer".

James Ford's men began pre-season last month but former Hull KR favourite Cockayne was allowed to sit out the first couple of weeks to work on the fledgling wine distribution business he has set up with his wife.

He has quickly got back in the groove, though, and says not only that he was welcomed with open arms by the rest of the new-look squad but also that the standards they have shown immediately caught his eye.

"That first weights session nearly blew my legs off," joked the 34-year-old, who had attended the initial squad meeting and club testing, had his first session on the training field on December 3 and was into it fully this week.

"But it was great, and then when we went out on the field it was superb.

"The quality was great - there was not one dropped ball throughout the session, and a lot of credit has to go to the coaching staff in terms of the skill level shown. I've really enjoyed it."

As for his welcome, he said: "Whenever you throw a bunch of blokes together, regardless of where you come from, everyone gets on with it. I'm not a guy with a big ego or anything like that. They made me feel very welcome.

"I felt a bit like the new kid at first but once you get going and get talking to everyone it was great. I've never been shy and won't have a problem in that sense, but it was excellent and everyone was really good. Those friendships and relationships will only grow through the year."

Cockayne, whose signing for York was announced in September, brings more than 300 games' worth of experience to Bootham Crescent, much of which has been in Super League. He helped Rovers win back their place in the top tier this year, prior to his release at the end of the season.

"It was quite an easy decision," he said of penning a one-year deal with the League One club.

"I wasn't sure if I was going to retire this year but I got to the back end of the season and my body felt great to be honest.

"I'd also spoken to Jamie Peacock (former Leeds and England star and now Hull KR football manager) and he felt he retired one year too soon and that I should go round again if I was up for it.

"I knew York had ambition and were doing well in their competition. Because of the dual-reg agreement between Hull KR and York I got to hear a lot about the Knights as a club and their coaching staff, and no-one had a bad word to say. That was a good starting point.

"I spoke to Jon Flatman (Knights chairman) and we had a couple of discussions and it went from there.

"I didn't even talk to any other clubs as I was so sold on the idea that York are an ambitious club and that they wanted to raise the profile of the sport in the city.

"They're looking at moving into a new stadium in 2019 as well, and, whether I play on beyond 2018 or not, the vibe I was getting was great.

"To use an old cliche, to sign here was a no-brainer."

Asked about playing in 2019, Cockayne said: "It's not decided. In sport, you never really know what's going to happen, for example injury-wise, and you can never take anything for granted.

"I don't want to finish too soon but also I don't want to just go around again for the sake of it when you're not contributing from a performance point of view.

"I will reassess things at the end of the year and see how I feel, how my body feels and how my form is, and see how it plays out."