York City Knights have confirmed that captain Chris Clarkson has signed a new deal with the club for 2022.
Back-rower Clarkson joined the Knights ahead of the 2020 campaign and goes into a third year at the club with 28 appearances in the amber and black to his name.
31-year-old Clarkson was named Knights captain ahead of this season and will be looking to guide the team to a more successful campaign in 2022 and, as preparations begin to step up over the coming weeks, the former Super League Grand Final winner admitted he is looking forward to righting some wrongs next year.
“It was always something that I wanted to do, to go round again, and to put right what went wrong in 2021.
“Last year, we underachieved a little bit and it’s difficult and frustrating for players when we’re not succeeding. The coaching staff has adjusted some things for 2022 and, hopefully, our ambitions can come to fruition next year and I’m glad to be a part of that.”
Noting the difficulties presented by Covid in 2021, Clarkson further noted that he is looking forward to mixing more with fans off the pitch in 2022 to further develop the bond and spirit among the group.
“I’ve not had much chance to build a relationship with the fans because of what’s gone on in the last couple of years but, to the back end of last season, they were great.
“Their appreciation for hard work shows and in the game against London, their enthusiasm to create a great atmosphere, it was really appreciated by the lads.
“It would be great to get the lads in and around the fans, talking to them and building that relationship. It lets the fans get to know us a bit as people as well as players and I’m sure, as they get to know us as people, they would have even more of an appreciation for us because there are not many rugby league players that are terrible people.
“We’re good lads and, when we get talking to each other, it’ll be great.”
Clarkson also spoke of the development process he has been through in 2021, his first year as captain.
“It took a while for me to adapt to being the captain, to figure out what kind of leader I am, when to lead by actions, to say the right things and when to let other people lead, as well.
“Towards the middle of the year, I think I got that and it was a massive learning curve for me. It helped me both on and off the field and I feel like, with that foundation in place, it’ll be an easy transition into 2022 and I can hit the ground running.”
Joining Clarkson in the Knights squad for 2022 is a group of new players, some of which our captain knows from his time at Hull KR.
“I’ve played with a few of them there and they left KR as young players and now they’re coming to York having learned the game. The likes of Liam Harris and Will Oakes, they have gone away and played some good rugby in some tough teams, especially Liam who helped Halifax to the Play-Offs.
“It’s great to have him coming back and I’ve played with Jamie Ellis as well at Hull KR. He’s got great experience at some top Championship clubs, and he’ll be bringing that to us and kicking us on.”
On Clarkson’s retention, Knights Head Coach James Ford said: “Chris is a very important re-signing for us.
“He works tremendously hard in attack and defence and has epitomised our team first mentality by playing in numerous positions without a second’s doubt to how it would impact on him.
“I enjoyed working with Chris and his abilities and characteristics will be absolutely key next season.”