PREVIEW: Knights looking for positive start in France

Published: 29 January, 2020 - 2:55 pm

York City Knights Head Coach James Ford is confident that his squad are more than capable of getting off to the best possible start in the 2020 Betfred Championship with a win at Toulouse Olympique – live on the OurLeague app – in France this Saturday.

The Knights recently concluded their pre-season with only a draw against Featherstone Rovers and two defeats to Halifax RLFC and Bradford Bulls respectively, but Ford remains upbeat what he has witnessed and is excited by the trip to the South of France.

He said. “Toulouse are a quality side so it will be tough. But so are we so I am confident we can do a job on them.

“Knowing after today how we defended really well and we are not far off with ball in hand.

“I am sure that Toulouse will know that they have a good side coming over to face them and we are really looking forward to going there and getting stuck in.”

The Knights will have revenge in mind, having lost all three meetings with the French side in 2019 but despite the results going against them, York only finished one place lower in the league. The league meetings were both settled by just one score.

York were leading in France in this fixture in April 2019 before a late try from Anthony Marion sealed the victory for Toulouse in what was a thrilling advert for the Betfred Championship.

Ford remains upbeat about the fixture, specifically how his side have defended in pre-season and how they can stand up to the threat Toulouse pose.

He said. “We pride ourselves on defence. The last two games has seen us mainly concede tries from kicks but we have remained tight as a group.

“I am pleased on how we are performing defensively and even in attack, I thought we looked good.

“We may have only scored one try but we created a lot of opportunities and looked more organised creating space on a very small field and in some difficult conditions.

“It may sound strange and worry people that we only scored one try but I was still satisfied regardless.

“We will go with our best 17 to try and beat Toulouse on Saturday night.”

Chris Clarkson is set to make his 250th career appearance in his competitive debut for the Knights this weekend, and a number of other new recruits such as Ben Johnston, Will Sharp and James Green could be in line for their competitive debuts also. Jimmy Keinhorst continues to make progress from injury and could be considered, and there will be a fitness check on hooker Kriss Brining.

Toulouse will be without influential back rower Tyla Hepi who has joined Castleford Tigers, but they’ve added some real experience in the middle with the signing of Harrison Hansen.

The 34-year-old spent nine years with Wigan Warriors which saw him lift the Super League and Challenge Cup trophies before moving on to represent Salford Red Devils, Leigh Centurions and Widnes Vikings in recent years. Hansen is a hard-hitting back-rower who will add to an already solid forward pack at Toulouse. 

To watch the game anywhere live from your online device, download the Our League app on Apple iOS and Android or visit rugby-league.com to sign up for FREE – Select ‘York City Knights’ when signing up to help your club!

Once again this season, BBC Radio York will have commentaries of York City Knights matches, home and away. You can now hear them on DAB radio and also online at bbc.co.uk/sport/live-guide where you will find the links to the commentaries on match days. It starts this weekend with commentary of the game in Toulouse, with coverage starting at 5pm.

2020 season tickets and memberships are available now. Secure your place in the brand new LNER Community Stadium today by emailing Zillah Ingledew at z.ingledew@yorkcityknights.com or call 01904 876527 for further details!

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