YORK Knights head coach Andrew Henderson is ‘immensely proud’ of his side, after reaching the play-offs in the Betfred Championship.

Henderson’s side defied the odds to sneak into the play-offs on the final day of the season, defeating Barrow Raiders 31-18 whilst Halifax Panthers fell to a 22-12 defeat to Swinton Lions.

Henderson reflected on a challenging season, admitting how proud he was of his players,

“I am immensely proud. It’s certainly been a season that’s had its challenges, a lot of adversity and a lot of change as well.

“We’ve got to remember that I got instated late in the day, just before pre-season and then it was a bit of a scramble to try and get staff together, and for myself to get around every single player and speak to them.

“Then to discover who was not going to be at training and who was, then trying to prep around that and have a pre-season with limited numbers.

“We came into the season and started to welcome some bodies back that had had time off or suffered with injuries throughout pre-season, then we started to pick up more.

“Like I said, it’s been a real tough year on the players and as them as a team, to really try and build continuity and cohesion, because it has been very disruptive.

“I think most weeks we’ve had anywhere from seven to 10 players missing, and the majority of those guys have been established players or spine players that are pivotal to what you are trying to build and create.

“It has been a challenging year, but to say this will be our 34th game this weekend coming, we had a wonderful Challenge Cup run with a different team every cup game but to give a good account of ourselves in that quarter-final against Leigh in the manner we challenged them, that was a huge credit considering we had 15 or 16 fit players going into that contest.

“We get to a semi-final of an 1895 cup and were unfortunate that we didn’t perform well enough on the day.”

Henderson hopes his side can give a good account of themselves in the play-off eliminator match on Saturday, October 1 (6.30pm), as the Knights travel to Odsal Stadium to take on Bradford Bulls. 

The York head coach knows his side has faced a lot of issues throughout the season, but described their achievements ‘incredible’ to reach the play-offs.

“Off of the back of that to have the final third of the season and perform in the manner that we have done, to earn the results we have done, to now put us in this stage of the next competition is tremendous. 

“In the final third of the year it’s not like we’ve had the cavalry back, we’ve still had exactly the same disruption to the team and lack of continuity that we have had all season.

“That for me is a real credit to this group of players, with everything they’ve dealt with this year and the amount of games we’ve had to play and some of the challenges, like having to play Featherstone an extra time this season who are the standout team this season, having to play three games in seven days and travel to Cumbria in midweek because we had such a good cup run. 

“There’s a lot of things we’ve had to face as a group, and to say we’ve come out of the other side and achieved what we have achieved, is incredible really.

“We’re excited about this next competition, and hopefully we can continue the form and momentum that we are in and give a really good account of ourselves.”