York Knights begin their 2024 campaign next week with a trip to Newcastle Thunder in the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup on Saturday 27th January (3pm).
Ahead of the season opener at Kingston Park, we spoke to Liam Harris about taking the captaincy, the fierce competition at half-back and his confidence in the Knights' attack.
Looking back on 2023, how do you reflect on last season and the incredible run the Knights went on to reach the Play-Offs?
“Really positively. It was a really good effort considering all the adversity that we faced last year, the boys showed a lot of character.
“Moving forward now, making the Play-Offs with this squad should be a given. That’s what we believe in-house anyway.
“We want to go that step further this year with the depth and quality we’ve got in this squad to really push on.”
How’s pre-season going?
“It’s been tough, like they always are, especially in the freezing cold, but the boys have built some really good connections in the short time we’ve had so far. The new boys have gelled really well and really fitted into the group, which is important.
“And the boys that were here last year have raised their standards too and we continue to strive for improvements each time we’re together.
“We’re in a good spot, but if you speak to any player in this league, they’re going to say that at this time of the year, so come round one, that’s when we’ll be tested to see where we’re at.”
How impressed have you been by the calibre of the recruits that have arrived during the off-season?
“It’s important that we did recruit, having lost some influential leaders in Clarky, Kirmo and Marshy. We’ve replaced them with really good people and quality players. Fair play to the Club for getting those deals over the line.
“They’ve all been really impressive in training. Will Dagger is looking really sharp and I’m looking forward to getting some combinations going with him and Richie Myler this year.
“We’re going to have some fun this year and there’s going to be plenty of points, that’s for sure.”
On numerous occasions, you’ve played as the only out-and-out half-back for the Knights. Now you’re part of a squad with four quality halves in yourself, Richie, Ata Hingano and Nikau Williams…
“It’s so exciting for me because when you play on your own in the halves, your own game has to change, you can’t play your own game.
“I’d like to think I’ve been part of some successful years at York in my time and have produced some pretty good performances. A lot of the time, I’ve been the only half-back, which has been hard.
“I’m really excited to have the likes of Richie, Ata and Nikau around me, to take off that bit of pressure. Hopefully that allows me to get back to my own game and I can explore my running game more this season, which is exciting.
“I’ve got to mention Nikau especially. He’s a quiet kid, but he has been absolutely amazing in training and he looks really sharp. I’m excited to see what he does for us this year, he’s a really good addition.”
And you head into 2024 as the new Captain…
“It was something I wasn’t expecting at all. When Hendo spoke to me about it, I jumped at the opportunity. It’s something that really means a lot to me.
“To be able to be able to lead this Club, where I’ve built some really strong connections over the years, and to lead this group of boys each week too, it’s a real honour. I can’t wait to lead out the boys here at the LNER for the first time.”
York Knights begin their 2024 season with a trip to Newcastle Thunder in the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup at Kingston Park on Saturday 27th January (3pm).
Tickets are priced at £15 for Adults and Concessions and £5 for Under-16s and are only available to purchase on-the-gate! Click HERE for more information.