YORK City Knights have signed an Italian World Cup player on loan, potentially for the rest of the season.
James Saltonstall, who hails from Halifax but qualifies for the Azzurri through his Italian mother and was in the team that shocked England in the famous World Cup warm-up win in October, joins the Knights from Super League outfit Warrington Wolves.
The 20-year-old centre/full-back is a natural replacement for James Ford, who suffered another injury setback in Sunday's surprise defeat to Oxford, and he goes straight into the squad that travels to Gateshead on Good Friday night.
Knights boss Gary Thornton said: "I've coached against him (when academy boss at Castleford) and he's highly regarded over at Warrington. The kid's definitely got something."
Saltonstall is a former England academy tourist but switched allegiance to Italy when making his full international debut in July 2013 in a European Shield match against Russia. He was also named man of the match in a 66-30 win over Germany that summer.
He has bagged two tries for the Azzurri, and played on the wing in their historic win over England at Salford ahead of the World Cup but did not feature in the tournament itself, despite being part of the squad.
The centre went on loan at Bradford Bulls earlier this year and appeared for the West Yorkshire side in each of their three pre-season friendlies. However, despite putting in encouraging performances, he did not make a full league appearance, with Elliot Kear, Adam Henry and Adrian Purtell ahead of him in the pecking order.
He now drops down to Championship One with a view to getting regular first-team action to push claims for a chance back at parent club Warrington, where he has been a full-time player since the age of 16.
Thornton said: "As with all loans, he comes initially for a month, but it is with a view to him staying for the season.
"He went to Bradford when they were struggling but he couldn't quite force his way in when they got players back - he was up against some very good players.
"He's got an opportunity here now. He's very quick and he can defend. Hopefully he will give us something."