YORK Knights head coach Andrew Henderson has explained the reasons for the quartet of departures announced last night - including that one has turned down a contract.

Full-back Matty Marsh, centre James Glover, winger Olly Butterworth and young front-rower Ben Barnard have all been confirmed to have left the club, along with retiring captain Chris Clarkson.

Terms were offered only to fan-favourite Matty Marsh, who has seen a series of injuries limit him to just 10 appearances under Henderson this season.

The 29-year-old had not featured for the Knights since injuring his rib in their 26-22 victory over London Broncos in mid-May, having then required surgery on a wrist injury aggravated during his lay-off.

He is now widely expected to join Sheffield Eagles, as is experienced centre James Glover, who spent the latter part of the season on loan at the South Yorkshire club.

Despite both Joe Brown and Myles Harrison admirably filling in in Marsh's place, the Knights are lacking an out-and-out full-back, with Henderson keen to keep the promotion-winner as a part of his squad for 2024.

York Press: Matty Marsh managed just 10 appearances for the Knights this term, seen here scoring against Newcastle Thunder.Matty Marsh managed just 10 appearances for the Knights this term, seen here scoring against Newcastle Thunder. (Image: Craig Hawkhead)

"We did offer Matty a contract to stay with us," the head coach revealed. "But obviously, he's turned it down and decided to go elsewhere.

"It wasn't a case of Matty wasn't wanted. We did want to keep him.

"I've made it clear to a lot of the players that we have ended up retaining and have offered contracts to that we want to have a bigger squad and a deeper squad next season.

"I want good quality players and strength and depth, there's no guarantee that anybody plays anywhere, I'm not bothered how old you are, how experienced you are, whether you're young, you're old, whatever.

"I feel that we need to have that strength and quality in all positions to create that competition for places at training, to bring the best out of one another, but also to give us that little bit of comfort to know that if we do get a knock or an injury to someone in that key position, we're throwing somebody out  there tried and tested, not moving somebody out of position to try and fill a void.

"That was made clear to Matty, but he obviously felt that a better opportunity for him was elsewhere.

"We do wish him the best of luck wherever he's going and we thank him for his efforts during his time at York because I know that he's very well thought of here and that he did a tremendous job for the club in his time here."

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Former Heworth youngster Barnard and winger Butterworth have little experience between them - the latter having played just a handful of rugby matches in his fledgling career after making the move from the army, and then bobsleigh.

Having scored a hat-trick on his Knights debut against London Broncos, the 25-year-old was then loaned to Betfred League One promotion-hopefuls Doncaster, but made just two appearances.

Henderson explained that he did not feel that Butterworth had a future at the Knights moving forward, but that Barnard's departure was due to increased work commitments outside of the sport.

He continued: "Olly Butterworth was very, very raw as a player, with not a lot of rugby league experience, so I probably didn't feel that there was going to be a future for him here moving forward.

"We tried to facilitate an exit strategy for him and get him an opportunity to play, which he did at Doncaster, and I think he's signed in rugby union now for a local team in Sheffield.

"He obviously feels that is the code for him now moving forward.

"Ben Barnard, he requested a release through work commitments.

"He's obviously progressing there with his work and they're putting a bit of pressure on him to do more things for them.

"Part of that is to work abroad as well, so it's more of a decision for him to focus on his work rather than his rugby. So we granted that release no problem."

Henderson commented little on Glover, who moved to Sheffield as part of a loan-swap deal with Jason Bass in July, other than to say that he has secured his future in the sport.