Teams converge on York as city hosts launch event
By Joe Smith
With less than a fortnight to go until the Knights kick off their first season back in the Betfred Championship with a huge clash against Toronto Wolfpack, each team from both the Championship and League One arrived in York for the 2019 season launch event.
One of the key points to come from the occasion was the announcement that the Wolfpack, last season beaten in the Million Pound Game and missing out on Super League promotion, had reached an agreement with Sky Sports to show each of their matches, home and away, live throughout the season. That includes the Knights match on Sunday 3rd February, although it is yet to be confirmed whether the match will be shown on one of their main channels or on an online basis. It was also revealed that the RFL confirming that they had an agreement with Sky to broadcast one match per week via the OuRLeague platform, a platform which showed League One matches last season including the Knights’ thrilling victory at Workington.
Ahead of what is anticipated to be a highly competitive competition, yorkcityknights.com spoke to some of the coaches who will be facing off against James Ford’s men in the coming months, one of whom was John Kear. His Bradford Bulls team enjoyed an enthralling battle in 2018 as both secured promotion from Betfred League One.
“It’ll be a great, exciting challenge for us both,” Kear said, adding that “I thought our two games were two of the very best in the league last season and we’ll be looking to renew those rivalries with James and his team.” One thing Kear noted as being something to look forward to is his team’s visit to York on July 20th, the Knights’ first scheduled match at the new stadium. “We’ll be very privileged to be the first visitors to that stadium and it will be a great thing for this city,” he beamed, anticipating nothing short of a fiery reception for him and his team come the summer.
Bradford, of course, have already played York since the 2018 campaign with a Boxing Day friendly which preceded both team’s Yorkshire Cup campaigns, a competition the Bulls won and one which Kear believes has been a great thing for those involved. “They haven’t been pre-season friendlies, they’ve been tough, competitive games where teams have stepped up,” he explained, adding his pride at having one the first edition of the revamped competition before suggesting further that the inclusion of Super League clubs in the coming years would only be a good thing.
At the other end of the coaching spectrum in the UK is Featherstone Rovers’ Ryan Carr who is embarking on his first coaching role in this country while Kear has in excess of two decades experience under his belt. On his views on the Betfred Championship, Carr is full aware of the competitive nature of the competition and the challenge that faces him. After wholesale changes in the off-season at the LD Nutrition Stadium club, Rovers have pulled off one of the more eye-catching signings in the shape of hooker Cameron King who, after scoring the match-winning try in St George Illawarra’s 2011 World Club Challenge win and making eleven appearances for Parramatta Eels in the NRL last season, arrives at Featherstone with big expectations. “It’s great for the profile of the game at this level,” Carr agreed. “Having someone like Cameron coming over to play for Featherstone is hopefully a draw for other Australians who might fancy the challenge.” After being back and forth between West Yorkshire and Australia in recent weeks, Carr is now understandably glad the season is fast approaching, confident that his Rovers team can compete in 2019. “It’s always exciting and we’re keen to get to the footy. We’re now going to spend the last couple of weeks working on developing our combinations and we will build,” the Australian shared.
More information and interviews from the season launch event will be published in the coming days, including discussions with prominent members of Toronto Wolfpack’s playing and coaching staff. The Canadians are the Knights’ first opponents on Sunday 3rd February (3pm KO) at Bootham Crescent and tickets are already on sale. Head to eventbrite.co.uk to purchase your tickets in advance – and do it quick as we are expecting a bumper crowd for our first match of the season!
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