ANDREW Henderson’s decision to leave out both winger AJ Towse and hooker Will Jubb from York Knights’ squad to face Toulouse Olympique on Sunday was in an attempt to combat the size of the visitors’ pack.

With Towse last season’s top scorer and Jubb an ever-present at nine, the decision to omit both from his 17 raised some eyebrows ahead of the Knights’ Betfred Championship home opener, with Josh Daley and Tom Lineham instead given the nod to start.

Henderson’s bench also included four forwards - Conor Fitzsimmons, Jack Teanby, Harvey Reynolds and Tom Nicholson-Watton - and not the often-used combination of two, an interchange hooker and a utility player.

“The thinking there was that I felt we needed to go forward dominated today,” the Knights boss explained.

“I know Toulouse are a physical side, they’re big, they’re strong, and they’re powerful. They’ve got a big back five, they’ve got a big forward pack that move fast and are real powerful.

“So I felt that we needed to, rather than carrying a second hooker today or a 14-type player, go with four forwards to try and combat that a little bit and try and be able to manage that.

“I’m glad we did because I think that’s what we did need to do. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough there to get the job done today, but that was my thought process behind not carrying a second hooker and just going with one.”

York Press: Jubb has fallen behind Josh Daley in the pecking order.Jubb has fallen behind Josh Daley in the pecking order. (Image: Craig Hawkhead)

Jubb, an ever-present in the position, made 31 appearances during the Knights’ unlikely run to the Play-offs before extending his contract at the club into an eighth season in November.

However, Henderson admits that he has dropped behind Daley, entering his second season with the club, in the pecking order as of late.

“I feel that Josh Daley at the moment is slightly ahead of Will Jubb,” he said.

“I think defensively, there’s not much between them, but I think that Josh, at the moment, is probably giving us a little bit more with the ball.

“That’s why I decided to go in that direction this week.”

The Knights were sucker-punched from the outset, with a Maxime Stefani double, sandwiched by a Robin Brochon penalty, putting the visitors in complete control just 23 minutes into the contest.

A moment of ill-discipline saw Harrison Hansen dismissed for a high tackle on full-back Myles Harrison shortly before the half-hour, but with York disjointed in their attack, their numerical advantage was seldom felt.

Guy Armitage put Toulouse 18 points to the good by the break, with another Brochon penalty, this time for a tip-tackle on the 30-metre line, widening the gap shortly after the break.

But despite Sitaleki Akauola also seeing red after appearing to have knocked prop Ronan Michael out with an elbow on the halfway line, late tries from Joe Brown, Connor Bailey and Jesse Dee proved too little, too late, to close the gap as the Knights fell to a 20-14 defeat.

As for Towse, who has five tries in as many appearances so far this season, Henderson believes that he is not quite at the levels that he showed last term - instead preferring Lineham, who has returned to the club with whom he started his career after spells with Betfred Super League sides Hull FC and Warrington Wolves.

“It was a selection decision,” explained the head coach. “I just felt like his performances haven’t been quite at the levels that we expect.

“I’m sure that he’ll bounce back and get his opportunities.

“He’s a quality player and a quality kid, but again we’ve got to remember that he’s still a young kid who is developing and we’ve got to do the right thing to get him at his best as well.

“I thought Tom Lineham was outstanding for us today. I thought he was our best player by far.

“I thought that he carried with real intent and purpose and was solid defensively for us. I was really impressed with him today.”