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Knights' George Elliott to try hand with Malton and Norton RUFC
DUAL-CODE junior international George Elliott is switching back to 15-a-side rugby – but only temporarily to keep himself in trim before a planned promotion push with York City Knights.
Winger Elliott, who signed a two-year deal with the Knights 12 months ago, still needs to meet with club chiefs to confirm terms in the wake of the club’s demotion from rugby league’s Kingstone Press Championship.
But the player, who turned 22 last weekend, intends to stay at Huntington Stadium and help the club bounce back up. And in the meantime he is to keep on the ball by playing alongside mates at Malton and Norton RUFC in North One East, the sixth tier of domestic rugby union.
He has been pencilled in for their game at West Hartlepool on Saturday, playing at centre, although a hamstring problem looks like delaying his debut.
“I want to help them out because apparently they’re short in the backs right now and they’re good guys up there,” he said.
“It’s about enjoying rugby, having a few beers and keeping my fitness up. It’s kind of serious but not nearly as serious or intense as Championship rugby league.
“It’s touch and go whether I play this weekend. Assuming I’ll be starting pre-season with the Knights I won’t risk the injury but I’ll be happy to help Malton out if I can.
“I really enjoy it at the Knights. The local lads like myself, Sam Orange and Ed Smith, along with (conditioner) Jay Salter and (assistant coach) Mick Ramsden will get together in October and do some gym work in readiness for a really good off-season. You always do better when you train together.
“The aim has to be promotion. People say York are a yo-yo team but the game needs a good York team. We’ve got the potential. We’ve got the facilities and the fan base is still pretty strong, and if we win more games more fans will come back.”
On the standard in Championship One, he said: “We played North Wales Crusaders last pre-season and we had a very young team out and didn’t lose by much. North Wales went on to win that league.
“If we had a strong team out we would’ve won.
“If we get a good team out (next season) and play for each other with a good team spirit, there’s every reason to think we’ll get back up.
“You need the right mentality on and off the pitch, though, and not just go in thinking it will be easy.
“With the players signed on up to now, even though some are young lads, they’re pretty much Championship players, if not now then in a year or two. We’ve got quality, it’s a case of getting belief and a bit of experience under your belt.”
Former Easingwold School pupil Elliott represented England Academy and Under-16s in rugby union and England U18s and U16s in league. He had three years at Leeds with a view to playing either union for Carnegie or league for the Rhinos, before joining the Knights two years ago.
Having turned his focus to league, his only 15-a-side action since playing for Carnegie reserves aged 18 was one run-out for York RUFC a year ago. But he remains a fan of both games.
“I prefer league because they play in the summer,” he joked. “There’s nothing worse than being a winger in union on a cold December day when you’re freezing.
“You hardly see the ball and your fingers are like icicles, and then you get stood on by some big heavy prop – it’s not fun.
“Joking aside, I do like both codes. I just like rugby. I’m not one of those people who likes one and hates the other.”
Elliott is something of an all-round sportsman, having recently played for Easingwold in the Hunters York and District Senior Cricket League and Easingwold Town 3rds in Ryedale’s local Beckett Football League.
As for the latter, he laughed: “I quite like football – it’s quite nice not getting beaten up and feeling battered for the next three days. But I didn’t realise just how much whingeing there is, even at that level where it’s not really important.
“In cricket you get banter but this is just whingeing – at the ref, opponents, team-mates, themselves. I find it hilarious.”
As for his pro sport, he said: “I started this season out of the team but I think I proved I was first-choice winger at York. I want to prove myself one of the best wingers in the Championship.”
As for next year’s personal aims, he said: “As a winger you always want to be top try-scorer. I just want to be one of the best players in the team, be the best I can be, and score plenty of tries for the team.”
• HALF-BACK Danny Nicklas, who played nine times for the Knights this year on dual-reg from Hull before quitting the club and trying his luck with Hull KR, has signed for Championship outfit Doncaster for 2014.
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