PREPARATIONS for this year’s much-anticipated East v West “State of Yorigin” game, as well as York & District ARL representative action, go up a gear next week with trials for the two teams.
As reported by The Press, the success of the inaugural East v West game last December means it will be repeated annually - only this time it will act as a selection match for the York ARL rep team that will not only take on York City Knights in a pre-season game over Christmas but also then tour France next year, playing a curtain-raiser to a Catalans Dragons fixture.
Open trials for both the East and West teams - comprising players from York Acorn and York Lokos to the west of the River Ouse, and Heworth and New Earswick All Blacks to the east, plus any hopefuls from Selby Warriors - will take place at the Knights’ training base at York St John University’s Haxby Road sports campus.
The session starts at 6.30pm (not 7pm as advertised elsewhere) and any hopeful open-age player from the above clubs can go down.
The East v West match is likely to take place in early November, having been put back from October because of clubs’ play-off commitments in their respective leagues.
Leigh Paul-Rientoul, head coach of Acorn and a York ARL organiser, said: “Out of the East v West game, a squad will be picked to face the Knights and hopefully that team will tour France next May.
“We’re getting lots of interest in everything we’re doing with York & District, from players, fans and people wanting to come on board.
“They realise how big it is and what we’ve achieved so far - it’s getting bigger and better again. We had a sold-out sportsman’s dinner recently and hopefully it can just go from strength to strength.
“The Knights are supporting us as well, which is great.”
Meanwhile, Paul-Rientoul’s buoyant Acorn team - on the back of a five-match winning run - go to Normanton on Saturday (2.30pm) looking to cement a play-off place in National Conference League division one, and take a big step towards banking a home semi-final too with a top-four spot.
The Blue and Golds, missing several players last week yet still winning at Ince Rose Bridge - countering the threat of former Warrington prop Paul Wood in the process - will be much nearer full strength with the likes of top try-scorer Ryan Gallacher, in-form Matt Chilton and vice-captain Elliot Bulmer returning.
Said Paul-Rientoul: “If we win we’re definitely in the top six and two wins mean we’re at least fourth. We could yet sneak third. Our aim is a home semi-final.”
The hosts are battling for a play-off place themselves but Paul-Rientoul said: “They’re on a bad run and we’re on a good run so hopefully that will help us. I have some tough selection decisions after last week but we’ll be confident.”