WILL Dagger believes that Mark Applegarth knows how to get the best out of him after a disrupted start to his York Knights career.

The full-back joined the Knights during the off-season from Wakefield Trinity following their relegation from the Betfred Super League – in part due to his association with York Valkyrie.

He is an assistant coach to Lindsay Anfield and fiancée Georgie Hetherington has been one of their star players so far this season.

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However, after a consistent run of games with Trinity during their relegation, Dagger has found that hard to come by with the Knights.

He got off to a flying start under former head coach Andrew Henderson with a hat-trick and eight goals in a record-breaking 114-10 thrashing of Newcastle Thunder but missed their clash with Wakefield the following week through injury.

The 25-year-old was then sent off for a headbutt against Sheffield Eagles – and after subsequently missing the opening two rounds of the Betfred Championship season, tore his armpit at Barrow Raiders upon his return.

After being sidelined for a month with the gruesome injury, he was then handed a one-match ban for dissent before his rotten luck continued as he was knocked out by a tackle from Swinton Lions’ Jordan Gibson a fortnight later.

But now, he appears to be back better than ever under Applegarth, having played every minute since the former Wakefield boss’ appointment last month.

“It’s good to be reunited with Mash,” he told The Press with a smile. “I got on with Mash at Wakefield, I enjoyed my time at Wakey, enjoyed playing there and got some consistent games.

“Now I’ve come to York, and it’s not been the best start for me personally with a number of injuries and bans, it’s probably come from my own frustration.

“But it’s good to get Mash, he knows how to get me working, get my head clear and get my mind back to where it needs to be.

“I think it’s been good for the boys as well, a breath of fresh air.”

Dagger is pleased to be reunited with Mark Applegarth, his head coach at Wakefield Trinity last year.Dagger is pleased to be reunited with Mark Applegarth, his head coach at Wakefield Trinity last year. (Image: Craig Hawkhead Photography)

The Knights are now finally beginning to build some continuity, having named just one change to their starting line-up against Sheffield last weekend.

That is something that had been ill-afforded to them during the opening half of the season, but a run of games alongside half-back pairing Ata Hingano and Liam Harris is something that Dagger has been relishing.

“Obviously it’s not been the best start to the season for me personally,” he admitted.

“But the more games I’m getting and playing with Ata and Liam consistently week in, week out, that’s only going to help. We’re getting to know how each other play, the flow’s going to get better, and it just becomes easier during the game.

“It’s definitely starting to pay dividends. The opportunities that we get, the more opportunities that we’re creating, and the more opportunities for us to go and score points. As long as we’re creating those opportunities, that’s all that matters.

“But playing alongside Ata and Liam, it makes my job a lot easier. They’re two smart half-backs and obviously they’re both doing their job well. 

“It’s good, and I’m enjoying it.”

Half-back Ata Hingano scooped the Rugby League World Player of the Month, as well as the Knights' own individual accolade.Half-back Ata Hingano scooped the Rugby League World Player of the Month, as well as the Knights' own individual accolade. (Image: Craig Hawkhead Photography)

Barrow are the visitors to the LNER Community Stadium this weekend, with the Knights hopeful of avenging their gutting 15-14 defeat at Craven Park in the reverse fixture back in April.

Injuries to Dagger and Jimmy Keinhorst during the first half forced a major reshuffle among York’s backs, but though they led with less than 10 minutes left to play, a late Luke Cresswell try levelled the scores before Brad Walker’s drop-goal sealed it for the hosts inside the final minute.

“It’d be massive to get the win,” insisted the full-back. “We owe them one for that drop-goal.

“It was a scrappy game up there, it’s very windy up at Barrow. But them coming over to our place, I think it’ll suit us a little bit better.

“Hopefully we can have a good week’s training, get firing on Sunday, and get that win.

“Home form is massive. It’s our fortress isn’t it; we shouldn’t be getting beaten at home. We need to try and make it a bigger thing, not getting beaten at home.

“If we can do that, we can put ourselves in a good spot, and to also pick up those wins away as well. We want to try and be pushing up in that top four, and I think that’s where we’re all trying to aim to be.”