Josh Daley is out to emulate the success of Brendan O’Hagan in a York Knights shirt after joining the Betfred Championship club’s list of great Australian imports for the 2023 season.
Half-back O’Hagan, an Ireland international of Australian descent, joined the Knights ahead of the 2021 campaign and immediately impressed in his debut live on The Sportsman, going on to spend two successful years with the club before departing in the close season.
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But hooker Daley, who has signed a two-year deal with York after buying into chairman Clint Goodchild’s vision, says he’d love to leave a similar mark in the town with his performances.
“Brendan came over and had that tough stint during Covid but what he did for the town and the club, I’d obviously love to replicate that,” Daley tells The Sportsman. “You can see in his departure that a lot of people appreciated all that he’s done.
“I’ve looked at it a number of years, coming overseas, just for a new challenge and a bit of a new experience. And I had a couple of mates who spoke pretty highly of the club, and Clint gave me the hard sell and said it was a really good area, they’re planning things for the future and there’s a lot of history at the club and around the town.”
After a 19-12 home defeat to Widnes Vikings first time out, Daley is set to miss one game due to suspension for a dangerous throw but could still feature against Bradford Bulls on Monday night in front of the Viaplay Sports cameras.
And the 26-year-old says he is thriving from working under new coach Andrew Henderson, a former hooker himself, at the LNER Community Stadium.
“It’s been really good, Hendo is so organised, he’s happy to chat and he’s happy to work through anything you need help with,” Daley explains. “I came over a little bit later and all through Christmas and the pre-season he was chatting to me and leaving me videos and all sorts of things, just making sure I was on top of not only my fitness and skill but also what they were doing over here.
“He’s been really good for the club and really good for me, obviously being a hooker himself we sort of see eye-to-eye on games and how we want to play so I’m really excited for this year.
“I can’t speak any higher for all the boys because they’ve honestly made it super easy for me to come in and just feel welcomed and play my natural game. I like being a consistent threat from dummy half attacking-wise, but then also being someone in the middle of the ruck who’s consistently going to hold up the middle. I’m a bit of a smaller body so people do tend to target me, but proving that you can defend in the middle is something that I’ve sorted of prided my game on.
Following a semi-final appearance last season, the team goal for 2023 is clear in the eyes of Daley despite there being increased competition at the top end of the Betfred Championship this term.
“Considering what they did last season, obviously we want to go two games better this year. But where they got last year was a really good start so we’ll try to build off that stepping stone.”
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