York City Knights coach James Ford is ready to hand “class act” Ata Hingano a first home appearance when his side hosts Bradford Bulls in front of the Premier Sports television cameras tonight (Monday, August 15).
The Tonga international and ex-NRL and Super League halfback has been signed from Championship rivals Leigh Centurions, initially on loan ahead of a permanent switch on a three-year deal starting next season.
Hingano, 25, who played for New Zealand Warriors and Canberra Raiders before joining Salford Red Devils last year, and after helping Tonga make the semi-finals of the 2017 World Cup, he is aiming to feature later this year, made his York debut off the bench in the 22-10 win at Dewsbury.
“He’s hard to handle and a very talented individual,” said Ford.
“He caused Dewsbury a bit of stress. He has a bit to work on, but he looks a class act.”
York would clinch a coveted top-six place with four games still to go by beating Bradford, whose former Warrington and Salford stand-off Dec Patton has been handed a seven-match ban for gouging during the Summer Bash defeat by Halifax (the Bulls already had injured halfbacks Jordan Lilley (ankle) and Billy Jowitt (shoulder) out for the season).
And Ford, who has overseen two wins in succession after four defeats on the trot, wants his side to go into the play-offs firing on all cylinders and ready to make an impact.
Ford guided York to promotion from League One alongside Bradford in 2018 and added: “To come up to the Championship and finish in the play-offs twice in three seasons is something I’m proud of.
“But I know this club has got more potential and we want to keep working hard on and off the field and to make an impact on these play-offs.
“We know we can do it, but we need to keep finding some more improvements.
“We’re absolutely not content just to finish in the top six. There will be some quality teams in the play-offs, but we want to make an impression.
“On your day, you can turn any team over. We’ve got to focus on us and on being ready to go.”
Bradford coach Mark Dunning is seeking a follow-up win after gaining his first in five attempts since being appointed on a permanent basis as basement side Workington were seen off 48-18 at Odsal.
The former assistant coach gained five wins in eight in interim charge following the departure of John Kear, who is now at Widnes Vikings.
York 21-man squad: Matty Marsh, Joe Brown, James Glover, Jacob Ogden, Brendan O’Hagan, Jamie Ellis, Will Jubb, Jack Teanby, Chris Clarkson, Pauli Pauli, Jordan Thompson, Ronan Dixon, Marcus Stock, Danny Kirmond, Liam Harris, AJ Towse, Ronan Michael, Bailey Antrobus, Joe Porter, Tom Inman, Ata Hingano.
Bradford 21-man squad: Elliot Kear, Matty Dawson-Jones, Rhys Evans, Kieran Gill, Ryan Millar, Anthony Walker, Thomas Doyle, Steve Crossley, Aaron Murphy, George Flanagan, Ebon Scurr, Brad England, Samy Kibula, David Foggin-Johnston, Joe Burton, AJ Wallace, Sam Hallas, Chester Butler, Myles Lawford, Jacob Gannon, Marcus Green.
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