NEW BOY Jake Normington is "chomping at the bit" to make his York City Knights bow after getting back his rugby league mojo at the Minster city club.

The 26-year-old former England amateur international contemplated returning to the community game after leaving Hunslet at the end of a disheartening season, but he instead opted to try life at ambitious League One rivals York - and already he cannot believe the difference.

The big second-row has high praise aplenty for the coaching staff, the set-up and his new team-mates, saying pre-season has been an "amazing eye-opener" which has given him the rugby buzz back in a big way.

He is now hoping to don the shirt for his new club in next Wednesday night's opening friendly, against the York & District ARL representative XIII at Bootham Crescent.

"Coming from Hunslet, where it was a laid-back set-up, to York, it's been like going back to being 16 at Leeds Rhinos," he enthused.

"It is the ultimate professional set-up. It's been brilliant. It's like being in a full-time set-up in many ways.

"Everything we've done so far in pre-season has been so good, so professional, even down to texting you on a morning to see how an injury is.

"You're not just a York City Knight for a couple of hours at training, you're a York City Knight all the time, 24/7.

"They've got this ethos where you have standards that are expected of you not only in a game but as a person.

"Even though I've had an injury I've still had the best pre-season. It's been amazing."

Normington had damaged an ankle in bizarre circumstances.

He explained: "I went on holiday in November and, three days before the flight, I was walking to the shop with my nephew, hopped over a wall and landed awkwardly. I thought, 'This is just my luck - all that rugby and I get injured by a three-foot wall.' Even the Mexican sun couldn't fix it.

"It's fine now though, and I'm ready and raring to go, chomping at the bit to get out there and play.

"Like most players will tell you, you can train as much as you can but nothing compares to playing."

Normington had gone through the system at Leeds from the age a 12, signing his first contract at 15, before leaving Headingley aged 19 and signing for Keighley.

He fell out of the pro game at that point - "Keighley treated me really well, it was more a case of missing out on what a lot of mates were doing at that age" - and went on to enjoy great success in the amateur arena, helping East Leeds to go from division two to the premier tier in the National Conference League and touring South Africa with the England Lions.

He was lured back to the semi-pro game by Hunslet two years ago, being named their Player of the Year in 2016. Last season, though, was not as good, in a poor year all-round for the Parksiders as they failed to reach the Super 8s.

He intimated his departure from the John Charles Stadium had been on the cards.

"I sat down with Gary Thornton when he took over and I was just not feeling it with the direction they were going in," he explained.

"I know it was a bit selfish but you come to realise that while it's a team sport you do have to look after yourself to an extent too. It wasn't for me.

"It's not a financial thing. I've got a good job so it's never been about the financial aspect. It's about enjoying your rugby.

"It's well noted I didn't have my best season last year, albeit not a particularly bad one, and you can probably put that down to a lack of enjoyment.

"Hunslet was not the most stable club. We had Coyly (James Coyle, as head coach) who all the lads loved and he was moved on. Rob Roberts came in for a bit and everyone loved him but he was only a stand-in.

"Once Gary came in it had come to the point towards the back end of the season. He said he didn't have me in his plans and I was going to walk away from the (pro) game.

"But then I spoke to James Ford (Knights head coach) and he gave me a big eye-opener.

"Everything at York has been so different. A lot of it stems from the players themselves but James Ford and Mark Helme (head conditioner) have been amazing - I've never known a conditioner like Mark. It's like playing for a club like Leeds, where the set-up is second to none.

"To come to a semi-professional club where it's meant to be lower standard - oh my God, you wouldn't believe it.

"I can't praise it enough for how they've looked after me - even while having the injury I was still getting fitter.

"I know I'd put weight on - I'm not an idiot. James said straight away it could be a issue if I didn't buy into the way they do things at York, but I bought into it and I know the weight is coming down and I'm getting fitter.

"They ask a lot of you but you get a lot back. It's been great for me and I'm loving it."