YORK Knights’ Josh Daley believes that his stint at half-back this season has allowed him to add more strings to his bow.

The Australian arrived at the LNER Community Stadium ahead of the season from NSW Cup outfit Mount Pritchard Mounties, and has certainly made his mark as one of the club’s most consistent players across the field.

Daley was seldom expecting to spend eight of his 22 matches thus far playing at half-back in the absence of regular pairing Liam Harris and Ata Hingano, nor to have been voted as the man of the match on several of those occasions.

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Then able to return to his favoured position at hooker before being sidelined with a PCL knee injury, he believes that he will be better for having learned to adapt his game upon his return.

“I remember when they said to me about coming in to play in the halves, and I said that I could do it,” he reflected.

“They said to me, go out there, do what you do, and try and utilise that running game a little bit more, and I think that I did that as part of the call.

“The Championship, it’s a different competition to what I’m used to back in Australia - it’s a little bit slower in terms of how it’s refereed, and there’s not a lot of six-again’s.

“I guess not being at nine, it’s allowed me to get a little bit wider, free up a bit more space and just get the ball a little bit earlier, whereas at hooker you’re just creating for yourself a lot off the play of the ball. That’s probably the thing that I noticed the most.

“At half-back there’s also a lot more to look at and a lot more to see. I had to develop my running game and I guess my deception game to try to set people up, and obviously my kicking game as well.

“That was a bit of a tough time, but I enjoyed playing in the halves. Obviously I was happy to be back at hooker, but it was something different and something that I’m not used to, so it was good fun.”

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Daley’s time at half-back included clashes against promotion contenders Batley Bulldogs and Featherstone Rovers, but his biggest test in the position undoubtedly came against Super League high-fliers Leigh Leopards in the Challenge Cup Quarter Finals.

That game will live in the memory for an outstanding try by former Heworth youngster Myles Harrison that gave the Knights an unlikely lead, but also for a horrendous spear tackle by Kai O’Donnell on Daley less than 10 minutes into the encounter.

The Australian admits that he had originally believed that the tackle was not as bad as it appeared, but came to the opposite realisation a week later.

“It was funny really because it all just happened that quick,” he explained.

“I usually just bounce up, but I almost got up from it too quickly. I remember Alex [Fishwick, Therapist] and the Doctor run onto the field and they were like ‘what are you doing? Are you alright?, What are you standing up for?’

“I said I was fine, and it didn’t hit me until probably a week after when the video started getting churned on socials and all that sort of stuff that I realised, jeez, that’s a pretty bad one!

“All these people back home and a couple of my mates that I hadn’t seen in a while started messaging me. I even got a guy message me that I used to play with about two days ago asking if I was alright!”

York Press: Kai O'Donnell's tackle on Daley in the Challenge Cup Quarter Final.Kai O'Donnell's tackle on Daley in the Challenge Cup Quarter Final. (Image: York RLFC)

Despite the severity of the incident, which saw him banned for six matches, O’Donnell could not apologise to Daley enough.

“Kai was good about it. He couldn’t have apologised more.

“He ended up texting me and ringing me just to make sure everything was all good.

“We’ve got a lot of mutual friends because obviously he’s an Aussie as well, and a lot of his friends are actually my good friends.

“I was certainly keen to talk to him a little bit after the game, but that didn’t eventuate because of obviously what transpired, which was disappointing.”

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As for his latest injury, sustained during the Knights’ 50-10 rout of Keighley Cougars on July 9, Daley believes that his rehabilitation is going well. A metal frame from his knee was removed last week, and the hooker has set their fixture against Batley Bulldogs on the penultimate weekend as his target for a return.

“They took [the frame] off last Friday,” he said. “I think it’s been good, and they’re happy about it.

“It’s just a matter of getting back into some plyometric stuff and some dynamic stuff, and just getting back to running and getting used to weight bearing on it again.

“It should be good hopefully in the next three to four weeks, and I’m trying to aim to get back for the Batley game at home because my folks will be in town that week.

“It would be nice to be able to play in front of them because they’ve never missed a game until this year.”