LIAM Harris expects York Knights to score “plenty of points” in 2024.

Andrew Henderson’s side will make their long-awaited return to action in the newly-formatted AB Sundecks 1895 Cup at Newcastle Thunder on January 27.

Owing to Henderson’s decision in favour of contested training sessions against both Castleford Tigers and Hunslet rather than traditional pre-season friendlies, that will be the first time that his new-look side will take to the field.

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The Knights’ 2024 squad boasts 20 retained players and a further 10 new recruits, including experienced Betfred Super League trio Will Dagger, Jimmy Keinhorst and marquee signing Richie Myler, following his shock exit from heavyweights Leeds Rhinos.

With the experienced Chris Clarkson and Danny Kirmond both retiring at the end of the 2023 season, Harris has been impressed by the Knights’ fresh faces.

“It’s important that we did recruit, having lost some influential leaders in Clarky, Kirmo and Marshy [Matty Marsh],” he explained.

“We’ve replaced them with really good people and quality players. Fair play to the club for getting those deals over the line.

“They’ve all been really impressive in training. Will Dagger is looking really sharp and I’m looking forward to getting some combinations going with him and Richie Myler this year. 

“We’re going to have some fun this year and there’s going to be plenty of points, that’s for sure!”

York Press: Leeds Rhinos' Richie Myler adds heaps of experience to the Knights.Leeds Rhinos' Richie Myler adds heaps of experience to the Knights. (Image: Craig Hawkhead)

Half-back proved a problematic position for the Knights last term, with Harris their only recognised player in the position for the majority.

Henderson fielded as many as nine half-back combinations, with hooker Josh Daley, Jesse Dee and Oli Field among those to step into the position when needed.

But this year, their squad paints a different story.

New Zealand playmaker Nikau Williams has made the move to North Yorkshire after a standout season with Newcastle, Ata Hingano is stepping up his return from an ankle injury, and Myler is impressive in the halves and at full-back - having turned out for the Rhinos in both positions last term.

Harris admits that playing regularly without a recognised half-back partner has been hard, and is relishing the prospect of that luxury in 2024.

“It’s so exciting for me because when you play on your own in the halves, your own game has to change, you can’t play your own game.

“I’d like to think I’ve been part of some successful years at York in my time and have produced some pretty good performances. 

“A lot of the time, I’ve been the only half-back, which has been hard.

“I’m really excited to have the likes of Richie, Ata and Nikau around me, to take off that bit of pressure. 

“Hopefully that allows me to get back to my own game and I can explore my running game more this season, which is exciting.”

York Press: Harris has been left particularly impressed by Kiwi half-back Nikau Williams following his off-season move from Newcastle.Harris has been left particularly impressed by Kiwi half-back Nikau Williams following his off-season move from Newcastle. (Image: Craig Hawkhead)

And the Knights’ captain has been impressed with Williams in particular.

“I’ve got to mention Nikau especially,” he enthused of the new signing.

“He’s a quiet kid, but he has been absolutely amazing in training and he looks really sharp. 

“I’m excited to see what he does for us this year, he’s a really good addition.”

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As for how pre-season is shaping up ahead of their season opener at Newcastle, Harris believes that the calibre of the club’s new recruits has only served to raise their standards.

But he warned no team truly knows just where they are at until the first game of the Championship season.

“It’s been tough, like they always are, especially in the freezing cold, but the boys have built some really good connections in the short time we’ve had so far. 

“The new boys have gelled really well and really fitted into the group, which is important.

“And the boys that were here last year have raised their standards too and we continue to strive for improvements each time we’re together.

“We’re in a good spot, but if you speak to any player in this league, they’re going to say that at this time of the year, so come round one, that’s when we’ll be tested to see where we’re at.”