Kirmond quickly settling into Championship life with Knights

After leaving Betfred Super League side Wakefield Trinity to join York City Knights in the Championship, Danny Kirmond could be forgiven for finding the transition from full-time to part-time slightly daunting.

NEW ERA: Danny Kirmond has swapped Super League for the Championship, and is eager to get started with new team York City Knights. Picture: York City Knights.

It can be a difficult time for any player at such a point in their careers but the veteran of more than 200 Super League appearances does not view it that way at all.

Rather, the 35-year-old second has been invigorated by the move.

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“It’s been quite a change, going from a place I’ve spent a really long time,” said Kirmond, who joined Trinity in 2012.

“But it’s been a really smooth transition and I’ve really enjoyed it. I think I was ready for it, more mentally than anything else, and the switch has been smoother than I thought it would be.”

With the club’s first game at the LNER Community Stadium – a friendly against Hull FC – occurring this Thursday, Kirmond paid tribute to both the club’s new home as well as the state-of-the-art training facilities at the York St John Sports Park.

“Facilities-wise, they don’t really come much better,” explained the former Super League Dream Team member, who started out at Featherstone Rovers and also played for Huddersfield Giants.

“It’s probably a better set-up than anywhere I’ve trained before. On gamedays, we’re obviously down at the new stadium and you don’t get much better than that, especially in terms of Championship rugby league.

Danny Kirmond, playing for Wakefield Trinity last season.

“We’ve had a couple of walks around and there are probably only two or three better in Super League so we’re really privileged to be in such a good set of facilities.

“It’s really important we perform to match that – that’s certainly the way we’re approaching things in training.”

Kirmond, who represented England against the Exiles in 2012, has been impressed with head coach James Ford and the vision he has for York who hope to eventually earn promotion to the elite.

“James tries to run it as a Super League club and that’s obviously the ultimate goal,” he said.

PROFESSIONAL APPROACH: York City Knights' coach James Ford at his club's new home ground, the LNER York Community Stadium. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

“We obviously don’t get as much time together at training (as full-time professionals) which I think frustrates a few people.

“But I say it honestly that the time we do have together, we make the most of.

“The boys do a lot of work away from the ground as well. We have video to analyse and team tasks to do away from training so, even though we’re not training full-time, we’re involved full-time and the attitude from everyone around that is really good.”

Kirmond is one of a number of players who have signed for York from Super League clubs ahead of the new season which starts when they face Sheffield Eagles in the Betfred Challenge Cup on Friday week.

Ex-Leeds Rhinos winger Ben Jones-Bishop and former England centre Ryan Atkins have also joined from Trinity, while Australian prop Adam Cuthbertson has moved from Headingley.

Although he is coming towards the end of his own career, Kirmond – who was restricted to just three appearances with Wakefield last term – has no plans to be a bit-part player with the City Knights.

“When James first spoke before I signed, he asked me how many games I saw myself playing,” he said.

“And I said every game; the reason I play rugby is because I want to play rugby.

“I enjoy playing, whenever I get the chance to do that.

“I will play with a great deal of pride in that York shirt; we’re representing the city and I want to be involved with that team every week and do that to the best of my ability.”

Kirmond has also started working for Yorkshire Water as he adapts to life after professional rugby league.

“At first, I was just training part-time with the Knights and not doing too much through the days,” he explained.

“I have a one-year-old daughter so it was great to get some family time in with her and my wife.

“But I then took up a role repairing sewers for Yorkshire Water – it wasn’t really what I planned on getting into!

“But it is something different to focus my mind on; to learn new skills, rather than not doing a lot.

“I think a big thing after leaving a full-time environment is to keep yourself busy, otherwise you’d just be reminiscing on the past.

“I’ve jumped into it with both feet and I think that’s why I’ve enjoyed it so much.

“To be honest, that’s refreshed me a bit, too, and I feel that, when I come into training, that I’m going to training for a different reason than before.

“It’s obviously really serious and we’ve got a real job to do at York, but the way things are run at York make you want to come to training and that’s been really enjoyable so far, too.”

On the chance to face Super League Hull this week in Brett Hodgson’s first game in charge, Kirmond admitted: “It is really exciting.

“It’ll be great to get started at the new stadium and to do it against Hull FC is brilliant.

“Hopefully we can put in a good performance to get ourselves going on the right foot before the Cup game against Sheffield.”