HEAD coach James Ford insists he will have total autonomy when it comes to picking York City Knights' side this year - dispelling suggestions partner club Hull KR could overrule him.

And this has been backed up by Rovers boss Tim Sheens himself, who says his club will be "working around what James wants".

The partnership, now in its second year, allows the League One team to field up to four Hull KR players on dual-registration in any given week, but there have recently been controversial suggestions that the Super League outfit would choose when their men would don the York jersey.

It follows comments from Sheens, who said "a number of our younger guys will be playing at York this year but also those who are coming back from injuries could also go there for game-time", and from Rovers youngster Joe Cator, who likewise told the Hull Daily Mail that KR assistant-coach James Webster had "pulled me aside and told me I’d be featuring a lot at York".

However, both head coaches have cleared up how they see the dual-reg partnership working.

Ford said: "We’ve got a good relationship with Hull KR. There will be players offered up to us on dual-reg.

“But there is no obligation for me to pick them."

Ford has previously told his troops if they perform they would be in the team. He added: "I will pick our best available 17 each week.

"We want to win as many games as we can. If that includes four dual-reg players, it includes four dual-reg players. If it includes no dual-reg players, it includes no dual-reg players.”

Sheens has recently said he "found it really beneficial last year sending a number of players (to York) for a couple of weeks before reintroducing them into our side" and that he wants "every player to have a match at least every two to three weeks... and our partnership with York gives us just one option to do so".

However, the former Australia head coach clarified his position, saying: "“We will be working around what James wants. Hopefully it work out as a good partnership.

“We’re not taking away any of their autonomy.

“We want to see York go to the next division. We both want to deliver and, with the right people and, touch wood, not too many injuries, we will be a strong pair."

Last year, hooker Will Jubb (16 appearances), half-back Liam Harris (18), and forwards Kieran Moran (18), Graeme Horne (2), Brad Clavering (2), Mitch Clark (1), George Lawler (1) and George Milton (1) all played on dual-reg for York from Hull KR, while Aussie centre Jake Butler-Fleming (5) had a loan spell.

Jubb, Horne and Butler-Fleming have since made the switch to Bootham Crescent permanent.

Sheens, suggesting he was confident in the set-up at York, said: “What it is, is I’m happy to send players to their club to play there.

“I think both clubs will be stronger by the time the season starts, and we (Sheens and Ford) will both be embarrassed about who we have to leave out of our sides."

Meanwhile, Sheens said he was impressed by the Knights in Sunday's pre-season friendly for Ben Cockayne's testimonial, and reckoned it was a good first hit-out for his troops.

Hull KR won 28-6 but perhaps had to do more defending that Sheens had expected.

He said: “We did a lot of hard work in ‘D’ – not that we had planned that but it was good value.

“I would rather us have a game like that than a blowout scoreline in our favour, for instance, which some people may have expected.

“But with a 14-3, or close to 14-3, penalty count and some forward passes calls on us, we had to work really hard.

"There were lots of good things from my point of view. I was happy with the effort from everyone and, defensively, given I don’t think we had a shot at them in the second half in their 20, I was pretty happy with the way the guys defended in our half.”

He added of York: “I’m really looking forward to working with them. James has done a great job. It’s a good side and they threw plenty at us.

“Their floating structures were good, they were well organised, they’ve got a few classy players.

“They’ve got some players to come back – I think they had a couple out of their better players – plus we will be on average putting a minimum of four in there a week.

“I think York are a side that will give plenty in that division.”