Former Super League Grand Final winner Chris Clarkson was one of the Knights’ headline recruits ahead of the 2020 season and, despite only just getting started in the amber and black, was sufficiently impressed with the setup to sign again for the 2021 season.
“Seeing how well the team did in 2019 and the potential of the club was exciting,” he told the club website, referring to what enticed him to the Knights. “It’s something I wanted to be part of. After joining in 2020 and seeing it first-hand, I want to help the team and club improve and fulfill it’s potential in 2021.”
After that sterling 2019 campaign where the club finished third in the Betfred Championship in our first season back in the second tier, the future of the Knights certainly looks bright and 30-year-old Clarkson agrees. “If we can get it right on the field, which I’m sure we will, then there is so much potential for the club as things off the field are looking really positive,” he expressed. One aspect of the Knights experience which players and staff regularly comment on is the facilities, with the LNER Stadium move on the horizon coupled with the York St John Sports Park, the club is very well set off the pitch. As a man who has played the vast majority of his career in Super League, Clarkson’s view that the facilities at York are among the best around certainly holds credence. “The training facilities and the new stadium would rival any top rugby league club in the UK without a doubt,” he explained.
“The city of York is a great place and it would be fitting to have a top rugby league club to go with it.”
With over 200 Super League appearances in Super League under his belt through his ten-year career, Clarkson has been around many a good squad and seen a lot. On his role as a leader in the Knights’ ranks, he reasoned: “I try to add my thoughts and experience where possibly but I also find myself learning things off the lads as well which is good.” Looking ahead to next season, he outlined his belief that the team is well set for a strong campaign.
“We’ve got a great squad with a good mix of youth and experience and the new guys coming in for next year will definitely compliment what’s already here,” he said.
While excited ahead of the 2021 campaign, one which promises to be huge for the club, Clarkson is aware that there is hard work to do. Looking back at the tough start to 2020, he suggested that, while the results weren’t going the Knights’ way, strong showings weren’t far off. “I think in those five weeks where we didn’t win a game in the league we learnt a lot about where we needed to go as a team and the sort of game plan that worked for us,” he philosophised. “To build on that again for next year will require a lot of hard work and commitment from the lads,” he added.
The retention of Clarkson wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible support of both the Squadbuilder fund and the 2020 Patrons. On learning that over 93% of the club’s Season Ticket holders, Premier Club members, Vice Presidents and Platinum Members donated this season’s memberships back to the club, Clarkson – like all players and staff – was astounded and humbled.
“It’s an absolutely phenomenal gesture from the fans,” he thanked, continuing “I’d like to extend my thanks to them all and hope we can repay them with a great 2021.”