YORK Knights head coach Andrew Henderson believes that young talent AJ Towse has improved massively over the course of the Betfred Championship season.

Former Heworth youngster ​Towse has been the only player to feature in all 32 of the Knights' matches this term, and is their top scorer with an outstanding 19 tries from the left wing.

That follows on from the 20-year-old's breakthrough season in 2022, which saw him nominated for the Betfred Championship's Young Player of the Year after scoring eight tries in 16 regular season appearances after deputising for the injured Will Oakes.

Catching the eye on the Knights' left edge, Towse has been named as the Knights Supporters Society 2023 Player of the Year, following in the footsteps of previous winners Jordan Thompson and Matty Marsh with 40 per cent of the vote.

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And despite having his doubts in the young winger during his early sessions at the helm, Henderson has been delighted with his return and growth across the season.

"I've been really impressed with him," Henderson enthused to The Press.

"I'm not going to lie, when I first had him in training in the first couple of sessions over pre-season, I thought 'what am I dealing with here?'

"Everyone was raving about him, and I did look up some things about him, this is AJ, he's great right?

"And I came in, did that first session and thought 'oh wow, I've got some work to do with this bloke'. I remember him at training and defensively he was all over the place.

"From where he was in those first weeks of pre-season, when I was thinking 'we've got a lot of work to do' and 'is he going to be able to get to the standard I need him to', to where he is now, wow, he's improved massively in his all-around game.

"We always knew with AJ, he's a quality finisher, you give him the ball and he can finish tries no problem. But there were a lot of areas of his game that for me, needed a lot of work.

"But what I am impressed with is how he's taken on that information and he's worked on things. There's been areas, certainly his back-field carry that he's imrpoved on, and defensively his positioning and his decision-making around that, he's improved massively.

"But I'm not stupid, and I knew when I walked in that he wasn't going to be the finished product at just 19 years of age.

"He'd got some good attributes about him - he's a good athlete and a good finisher - but there was a lot of things that we had to do to work on him and get him to where he needs to be in the future long-term."

York Press: Towse scored an incredible length-of-the-field try against Halifax Panthers.Towse scored an incredible length-of-the-field try against Halifax Panthers. (Image: Craig Hawkhead)

Towse's return this season includes some memorable tries, including a hat-trick against London Broncos in May, his length-of-the-field effort against Halifax Panthers, and even the lovely footwork of Monday's score against Batley Bulldogs.

He has also proved an able assister, most notably his exceptional tip backwards for Myles Harrison to score the RFL's Impact Performance Try of the Week in their Betfred Challenge Cup Quarter Final against Leigh Leopards.

Henderson believes that being given a consistent run of matches has also paid dividends to the young talent's progression.

"I'm really impressed with the amount of progression he's made in such a short time," Henderson admitted. "To say where he was at the start when I first walked in the door to where he is now, he's improved massively.

"And I do feel that the fact that he's had a consistent run of games and he's played in every single match for us so far this season, that's helped him as well with his progression and development.

"He's just got better and better as each week's progressed and as the season's gone on.

"It's great to see that much growth in a player in such a short time. I'm really excited about what more is to come from him in the coming years."