Updated: YORK City Knights have insisted the appointment of Castleford and Gateshead boss Dave Woods as director of rugby does not undermine head coach James Ratcliffe.

The Australian is to oversee player development, player recruitment, the playing budget and coaching development at Huntington Stadium, as well as team selection in consultation with the coaching staff.

His job will be part-time and will start in earnest on Tuesday night when the players reconvene for training.

The Knights have said Woods’ appointment will not affect the playing budget, and The Press believes one of the first players he brings to the club could be Featherstone centre Larsen Marabe, the club having had talks about a loan deal.

Woods could also bring his former charge, Neil Thorman, back to Huntington Stadium once the stand-off cum full-back’s contract with Avignon runs out at the end of the French season later this month.

Woods, previously on the Penrith Panthers backroom staff, took Castleford to promotion to Super League as National League One (Championship) champions in 2005 and in his next job turned Gateshead from wooden spoon contenders in National League Two to champions in 2008, being named NL2 Coach of the Year in the process.

However, Cas did not renew his one-year contract, while Thunder sacked him after their title triumph amid allegations of breaching club discipline. Woods refuted these and claimed for unfair dismissal.

Knights general manager Ian Wilson reckons his know-how could prove invaluable to the Knights as they look to rebuild their Championship One promotion push.

He also insisted Woods had not been appointed to replace Ratcliffe, but rather work with him. Ratcliffe himself had been director of rugby at the Knights before player-coach’s Paul March’s sacking last summer, at which point he switched to head coach, with nobody taking on the director role.

“It’s something we thought would help to take us forward,” said Wilson. “The current coaching team will still be in place. We feel it would be of benefit to everybody to have Dave here.

“He’s got one of the best track records in Championship rugby. He’s had two head coaching jobs and won two promotions. He took Gateshead from bottom to top within about 18 months.”

Asked if the appointment undercut Ratcliffe’s position, Wilson said: “I don’t think so. It’s a completely different role. It’s one James did when Paul March was at the club.

“We decided not to have one (a director of rugby) at the start of this year, but we feel Dave’s experience and knowledge will be a good asset.”

Woods, still based in the North East, has recently been working with the Rugby Football League as head coach to the Great Britain Community Lions Under-18s.

“He’s not had a head coaching job at a club for a year or so, so he’s been available for a while,” added Wilson.

“He will pretty much be in charge of anything to do with the playing side. But it’s a director of rugby role working closely with the current coaching team. He’s come in to add to what we’ve got.”

The Knights have confirmed they have spoken to former Gateshead ace Thorman about bringing him back to York when his commitments in France end.

Thorman, 25, the younger brother of Knights player/assistant-coach Chris Thorman, played five times for the Knights in 2005, scoring one try, before returning to Gateshead – with Woods later helping him to become one of the best playmakers in the division.

The Press believes his potential signing could depend on where he gets a new job when returning to England.

The Press understands the club have also approached Featherstone about borrowing Papua New Guinea international Marabe to bolster their threequarter options.

Any move would initially be for one month and the club might therefore leave an agreement until after next Sunday’s Challenge Cup tie with Crusaders, making him available for four, potentially five, league games within the month.