BEN COCKAYNE says a cracking York City Knights performance against a Super League side this weekend will be more important than any personal gains.

Cockayne will make his Knights bow on Sunday against former club Hull KR at his old Craven Park stamping ground (3pm).

The game is a testimonial in his honour, celebrating his long top-flight career primarily with the Robins, but the 34-year-old winger is keen for it to be a serious pre-season test for both clubs as they build up for their respective 2018 campaigns.

Asked if the match was more about the performance or the occasion, Cockayne said: "It's definitely about the performance.

"It is about the occasion as well - it's great I've been awarded a testimonial and great it's my new club against Hull KR - but the most important thing is for the team to put our best foot forward.

"It gives the new players like myself, and the players who have been at the club a while, an opportunity to put our hands up for selection for the new season. It's also a good challenge.

"It's not just a testimonial for Ben Cockayne but an opportunity for the players and for the coaching staff - of both teams - to get a good look at things."

Asked about playing against his old mates, he said: "I'm really looking forward to it. I'm sure there will be a few digs going in between one or two people. It will be a good game.

"I will try to enjoy it. All the lads from both teams will treat it very seriously but I want to enjoy the occasion and hopefully play with a smile on my face."

Cockayne has been told that Rovers - who have three pre-season fixtures lined up, with Sunday's match followed by a derby against Hull FC seven days later and an outing against London Broncos on January 26 - are to field as strong a line-up as possible this weekend, minus only players who are returning late for pre-season after the World Cup or those on the treatment table.

"They're going to go as strong as they can with what they've got available and I think that's a very generous gesture from (Hull KR boss) Tim Sheens," he explained.

"It will all help bring the fans out in numbers, and I think it will be good for York too in terms of the challenge, going up against a Super League side. It's beneficial all round."

Asked what kind of crowd he expected, he said: "It's always hard to tell. It's the first game of a new year and their first of the new (pre-)season, plus it's a testimonial. The weather will have an impact, but I'm hoping we will get some good numbers."

Knights boss James Ford has indicated that, along with Cockayne, another marquee signing from Hull KR, Graeme Horne, will also make his bow after switching Humberside for the Minster city this winter.

Another former Super League player, hooker Andy Ellis, plus Joe Porter and Adam Robinson, who all sat out last week's opening friendly against the York & District ARL XIII, are also penned in to play.

Said Cockayne: "I think we'll be going quite strong as well. One or two have picked up knocks and it won't be worth risking them - we'll find out the team at training."

Ford's troops reported back on Tuesday night following the New Year break, with Cockayne continuing to get used to the part-time nature of League One rugby compared to full-time life at Rovers.

Cockayne - who has retained strong links with the Robins, now working two days a week in their marketing department - said: "Training has been good. It was very wet on Tuesday night but, to be fair, training has been superb.

"The only difference for me really is that, when full-time, you get a full day to get done what you need to get done.

"In the part-time environment you've got a couple of hours to get done what you can, after lads come in from work.

"But the way James Ford coaches, it's very professional. The way we train, the video reviews - it's very similar to what I've done in the past. It's a very high standard.

"Don't take this the wrong way, but it's probably a higher standard than what I thought it could or would be, in terms of how serious everyone takes it. It's really impressive."