YORK RLFC have confirmed that experienced forward Danny Kirmond has signed a new deal with the Knights, signing for the 2023 season as player/Assistant Coach.
The former Wakefield Trinity man will step into a coaching role after the departure of Ben Cockayne from the club and will assist new Head Coach Andrew Henderson in his first season in charge of the Knights.
Kirmond arrived at the Knights ahead of the 2021 campaign after close to two decades in Super League with Huddersfield Giants and Wakefield Trinity, the latter of whom he captained for a number of years.
The former Featherstone and Huddersfield forward helped the Knights to a first-ever Betfred Championship Play-Off victory after a sixth-placed finish in the regular season.
Now, the move into coaching – alongside his playing responsibilities – will see Kirmond embark on his first professional coaching role as the Knights look forward to a big season in 2023.
On signing his new deal and responsibilities, Kirmond said: “First of all, I’m delighted to have re-signed with the Knights. It’s a club that’s really going in the right direction and that’s been sold to me both within and around the club.
“It’s a place that I’ve really enjoyed playing my rugby in the last couple of years. I’ve really enjoyed working with Clint since he has come in and he’s got a great vision and awareness of the opportunity that the club has been presented with.
“He really sold that vision to me in the off-season and I wasn’t really too sure what I was going to do in 2023. Obviously I’ve had a lot happen in my personal life in the last four or five months and the club has been really good with me in that period.
“By that, I mean everyone at the club – Fordy before, Clint, the fans and the boys as well. That was the main reason for me staying, really, and I feel I needed to repay a bit of that faith and that loyalty.
“In sport, there isn’t a lot of loyalty that comes back the other way but York really showed me a lot of loyalty in that time. That’s something I really appreciated and to have the opportunity to stay for another year is something that I’m really excited about. I’m excited about the opportunity as a whole but also playing in this group and continuing the progress we’ve made in the last twelve months.
“I’ve had a few chats with Hendo now and the club has obviously been in great hands with Fordy for a long period of time. I think that he was presented with a really good opportunity that I think will work really well for him and I think that Clint has got a really good guy coming in in terms of Hendo.
“He’s very knowledgeable on the game of rugby league but also very knowledgeable on people. I think that is a really important thing in a team sport like ours, that you put a lot of emphasis on the person and not just the game.
“I think that’s the sort of vision Clint has as well, that we will develop the people and culture around the place. That’s how the team moves forward and that fits in with how I am as a person. To have those chats with Hendo and to realise that he has that sort of vision and attitude towards how we move forward as a team and as people is something that really excited me.
“That was a tipping factor in me wanting to stay on, really. When Fordy moved on, I wasn’t too sure on what I was going to do. Having spoken to Hendo, though, it really firmed up what I wanted to do and he is someone I’m really excited to work with.
“In terms of the coaching and playing role, I think this first year it will be pretty fluid in terms of how we develop into the role. I’ll probably say that, for now, my first thoughts will be as a player and I think that at my stage of career, you’ve got to want to play in every game that you can. There’s not a lot of time left to keep playing so, first of all, I want to get out on the field.
“That being said, coaching is something that really excites me. I’ve really enjoyed being with some of the young kids during my time here. I did quite a bit of work with Toby (Warren) in terms of his video review and, speaking to Hendo, he’s really keen to develop me as a coach as well. That’s something I’m really excited about.
“I think my coaching role will depend on how involved in the team I am as a player. At the same time, I will be taking individual bits of sessions and helping Hendo with the review process as well as helping analyse opponents and how we’ve gone as a team.
“It’s going to be a real learning curve for me as it’s something I’ve not really done a lot of before. I’ve been involved with reserves (at Wakefield Trinity) but it’s something that’s quite new. I’m coming into it pretty green but I feel that I’ve got a really good mentor in Hendo who will work with me on that and develop me into that role.
“The Club is somewhere I can see myself adding something behind the scenes in terms of coaching into the future so it’s an addition I’m really excited about moving forward.
“This year looks like it will be a really good season for the Knights. We’ve added some great players to the squad and I’m looking forward to 2023.”
Knights Head Coach Henderson added: “I’m really pleased to bring Danny onto our coaching team. When I spoke with him, it was clear he had a desire to transition into coaching when he retires from playing.
“I thought it would make sense to start that process now whilst he is still a player.
“I think he will be great for me, personally, as he can provide valuable insights into the current dynamic of the playing group and the personalities within it which will help me understand them better. In turn, that will help me get the best out of each individual and the team collectively.
“I am mindful, though, that Danny is still a player and will make sure we get the balance right with his training and coaching. I still see him playing a vital role in the playing group.
“Danny is a well respected member of this club and team and I believe he will add great on both the playing front and coaching team this season.
“I am very much looking forward to working with him as a player and also playing a part in his development as a coach.”