York City Knights players and personnel

YORK City Knights kicked off the 2017 campaign - and a new era at the club - with a much-changed squad compared to the class off 2016.

The player exodus amid the uncertainty over the club's future at the end of last season, followed by the takeover in early December, meant a new group had to be assembled quickly by head coach James Ford and the new owners.
In this new-look, much younger party, only nine remain from 2016.

COACHING STAFF
Head coach
James Ford

Date of birth: 29/9/82
Previously a prolific try-scorer with Sheffield and Super League player with Castleford, he joined York as a player in 2011 from Widnes. Was named captain and topped try-scoring chart in 2012, before going down the coaching path as U20s boss and player-assistant to first-team chief Gary Thornton. Took over the reins when hanging up his boots at the end of 2014 and has since earned plaudits aplenty for the way he has led the team through two years of off-field strife and uncertainty, taking them to play-off semi-finals both times. The club's new owners tied him down to an improved three-year deal after taking over the club in December.

Assistant-coach
Chris Spurr

Dob: 7/7/1980
Played for Featherstone, Rochdale, Batley, York (twice), Dewsbury and Doncaster, where he became assistant-coach to then boss Paul Cooke after hanging up his boots at the end of 2013. Joined James Ford's Knights set-up last August after the then player/assistant Mark Applegarth had to give up coaching responsibilities due to work. Works in the Rugby Football League's community department during the day.

Player/assistant-coach
Jonny Presley

Dob: 8/7/84
Genial and intelligent half-back considered hanging up his boots but decided to stay on another year, taking on important new training duties to boot as he heads out on the coaching path.

Strength and conditioning coach
Mark Helme

Dob: 10/2/79
A former colleague of James Ford in Wakefield College's highly regarded sports department, where he was head conditioner, he is now a lecturer at Leeds Beckett University while doing a PhD. Has formerly worked with Castleford Tigers, Wakefield Trinity and England Colleges footballers. Joined in July 2015.

Assistant-coach/team manager: Will Leatt
Dob: 10/8/90
Popular York-raised York St John University sports coaching graduate who impressed so much with his attitude, ability and attention to detail during an internship in 2014 that he won the Clubperson of the Year award, with James Ford and co demanding he stayed.

Chief physio: Sarah Hattee
Match-day assistant: George Leatt

 

PLAYERS
(in alphabetical order, with squad numbers)
Joe Batchelor 11
Dob: 28/10/94
Position: second-row
Height: 1.86m
Weight: 95kg
Wakefield-born, he is the brother of Trinity back-rower James and likewise progressed through his hometown club's youth system before spending a year in Australia and then joining Coventry Bears last season. Was taught by Knights boss James Ford at Wakefield College. Has won a lot of conditioning drills and tests in pre-season.

Tommy Brierley 4
Dob: 8/9/96
Position: centre/winger/full-back
Height: 1.84m
Weight: 92kg
Youngster came through Leeds Rhinos' academy and, while comparisons in style with Castleford's ex-Knight Greg Minikin might be a bit cliched, it is hoped the youngster who attracted attention of Championship clubs will similarly progress rapidly at League One level.

Harry Carter 14
Dob: 10/2/94
Position: hooker
Height: 1.70m
Weight: 82kg
Was coached by James Ford at Wakefield College and went on to be a standout player for the Knights U18s, U20s and reserves. Lacks size but makes up for it with zip, technique and improving game nous. After making first-team debut in 2014, his real breakthrough year came last term when he became an integral member of the line-up. Has big boots to fill now, though, following try machine Kriss Brining's departure to Salford.

Adam Dent 22
Dob: 2/11/93
Position: centre/wing
Height: 1.85cm
Weight: 86kg
A back-up in the outside-backs for the last three years after following big brother Ben from the U20s into first grade, he has safe hands and a good scoring rate of ten tries in 18 appearances.

Ben Dent 21
Dob: 27/9/91
Position: winger/full-back
Height: 1.86cm
Weight: 92kg
Former New Earswick ARLC youngster missed much of last year's pre-season due to injury and by his previous levels had a disappointing campaign. Will be looking to get back to the standards shown in his breakthrough 2014 season when he was a try-scoring sensation on the wing - the second top scorer in Championship One with 18, and with 20 in 23 appearances in all. Also played much of 2015 at full-back, showing another dimension to his game.

Ronan Dixon 16
Dob: 25/7/97
Position: prop
Height: 1.92cm
Weight: 102kg
Aggressive 6ft 3in prop, he is one of those players to come out of the under-19s arena in Super League without bagging a first-team contract, but had been highly regarded at Wakefield, especially by their former boss Brian Smith. Still very young for a middle with his best years ahead of him.

David Foggin-Johnston 2
Dob: 19/8/96
Position: winger
Height: 1.73m
Weight: 76kg
Diminutive former Warrington academy flier - the lightest player on York's books this year - scored 11 tries in 19 appearances for York's League One rivals Doncaster last season and, with a neat ability to beat players, attracted attentions of Championship and League One clubs before penning deal with York.

James Haynes 19
Dob: 22/3/89
Position: full-back
Height: 1.75m
Weight: 89kg
Punchy and hard-running, he joined York towards the end of 2010 and was man of the match in Grand Final victory. Quickly became a fan favourite but has since been luckless with injuries. Missed all of 2012 with sciatic nerve problem and duly struggled for form and fitness in 2013, so returned to the amateur game. With sharpness restored, he took his chance back at York in 2014 so much so he became team captain in 2015 - only to then require a knee reconstruction that August which kept him out for another 12 months. Has lost number one shirt to new recruit Ash Robson but remains a fixture at the club.

Brad Hey 17
Dob: 4/9/94
Position: centre/back-row
Height: 1.83m
Weight: 93kg
Tall, rangy runner first arrived on loan from Batley in July 2015 and should be looking to stamp his mark on things this year after being in and out of the team thus far. Hopes higher than ever than he can finally turn his potential into performance.

Nev Morrison 3
Dob: 27/5/90
Position: winger/centre
Height: 1.80m
Weight: 93kg
Previously a regular try scorer for Sheffield and Doncaster, he bagged 12 in 23 games for York in 2015. Had the occasional difficulty under swirling high ball but has a strong all-round game, especially when playing with confidence. Scored in the opening game of last season but then left for a year in Australia.

Joe Porter
Dob: 26/1/93
Position: back-row/loose-forward
Height: 1.80m
Weight: 93kg
Signed from York Acorn ARLC at the start of the season after a successful trial. Hard-running, brave back-rower was Acorn’s Player of the Year last term and arguably their best player for the past few seasons.

Jonny Presley 23
Dob: 8/7/84
Position: half-back/hooker
Height: 1.73m
Weight: 85kg
Nippy playmaker - who has also evolved his game from being a noted running threat to a composed organiser - has played for Featherstone, Keighley and, down under, with Fremantle, and now enters fifth season of his second spell at York, while also taking on assistant-coaching duties. Holds Knights record of six tries in a game, set in record 2011 Challenge Cup win over Northumbria University, and in total has 45 in 115 appearances for the club. Considered retiring but, while he could well feature less this year, he is in too good condition to hang up his boots just yet.

Adam Robinson 20
Dob: 8/4/87
Position: second-row/prop
Height: 1.76m
Weight: 105kg
A Championship stalwart with Batley and Halifax, he previously starred in Dewsbury's Championship One-winning campaign of 2009. The Knights were delighted when he opted to step back down to League One with them, while the player himself says he has enjoyed a new lease of life since signing, relishing the chance to be an old head in the squad. Scored three tries in four appearances on loan at York last summer.

Ash Robson 1
Dob: 4/11/95
Position: full-back/half-back
Height: 1.81m
Weight: 95kg
Fleet-footed former York Acorn junior was a marquee signing after personal circumstances helped to persuade him to leave a budding Super League career at Castleford for his hometown club.

Tommy Saxton 5
Dob: 10/3/83
Position: winger
Height: 1.85m
Weight: 100kg
Veteran winger played for Super League clubs Castleford, Hull, Wakefield and Salford earlier in his career, winning the Challenge Cup with Hull in 2005, before starring for six trophy-laden seasons with Championship big-guns Featherstone and then signing for Halifax in 2015. He joined the Knights, initially on loan, last May and scored three tries in 13 appearances, being a key member of the team that stuck together through the off-field strife. Looking to go out on a high this year.

Chris Siddons 10
Dob: 30/1/92
Position: prop
Height: 1.85m
Weight: 102kg
A star of the amateur game, the Lock Lane captain was England Lions' Player of the Tour on their recent trip to Fiji and has looked far from out of place in the pre-season fixtures at York as he now tries his hand in the semi-pro arena.

Ed Smith 12
Dob: 12/11/92
Position: second-row
Height: 1.85m
Weight: 96kg
A two-time Press Player of the Year who has been given the captaincy for 2017, following in the footsteps of brother Pat, the 2015 club skipper. A local product, and the club’s then youngest-ever player in 2010, he is still only 24 but seems to have been around for ages, with 123 first-team appearances for the Knights already - the most of anyone in the current squad. Well respected across the league.

Pat Smith 9
Dob: 4/3/90
Position: hooker/half-back
Height: 1.70m
Weight: 86kg
Quick of mind and foot, he arrived at his hometown club three years ago from Sheffield, where he was largely a back-up player for the then Championship champions, and became club captain in 2015. Had to forfeit the armband last year after missing pre-season due to work but fought back into the line-up on his return to Blighty. He was shortlisted for Championship One Player of Year while scrum-half in 2014 but is seen as more of a hooker now.

Danny Sowerby 6
Dob: 13/9/96
Position: half-back
Height: 1.74m
Weight: 82kg
Former Milford Marlins junior was a regular try-scorer for Bradford under-19s last year, after also having a spell in Castleford's academy. Head coach James Ford is looking to take him onto the next level in senior rugby.

Tim Spears 13
Dob: 27/7/84
Position: loose-forward/prop/second-row
Height: 1.83m
Weight: 97kg
York pulled off a major coup when persuading Featherstone's long-serving captain to drop down to League One having been surprisingly released from Post Office Road. He had led Rovers into the Middle Eights last season having beaten Bradford to fourth spot in the Championship. He also helped them win four consecutive Championship League Leaders Shields from 2010 to 2013, as well as the Championship Shield in 2015.

Adam Swift 24
Dob: 7/3/96
Position: centre
Height: 1.87m
Weight: 90kg
Namesake of St Helens' threequarter, he was taught at Wakefield College by head coach James Ford and played under him in the old youth system at Huntington Stadium. Joined the books of Featherstone after York's reserves disbanded but returned to the Minster city this winter for a shot at first-team action.

Liam Thompson 15
Dob: 7/2/91
Position: second-row
Height: 1.85m
Weight: 100kg
Former England Universities forward played 38 times for Coventry since the East Midlands club joined the League One ranks. Not quite a player from the expansion areas though - he hails from Leeds and was schooled in rugby at the notorious Queens amateur club.

Bobby Tyson-Wilson 8
Dob: 6/11/
Position: prop
Height: 1.93m
Weight: 116kg
Biggest player on York's books this year, he came through the Hull youth set-up and also previously played for Doncaster. Stood out at leading amateur club West Hull last year and now gets another shot in the semi-pro arena. Dad Rob is a youth coach with the City of Hull Academy.

Harry Tyson-Wilson 7
Dob: 29/12/96
Position: half-back
Height: 1.77m
Weight: 83kg
An England international at scholarship and academy level - and Bobby's younger brother - he scored four tries and 14 goals in three appearances on loan at York from Hull last year and turned down approaches from elsewhere in the Championship and League One to join permanently over the winter. York are hoping his left foot can cure their longstanding goalkicking ills.