BIG-HITTING back-rower Joe Pickets could be coming back to York City Knights.

The Barnsley-based Tyke, 23, played 11 times for the club last season after arriving from Beverley RUFC, quickly earning a reputation as a no-nonsense forward not averse to earning the wrath of referees.

He is back in the 15-a-side game now and plans to move to Australia towards the end of the year but has been in talks with the Knights about a return to Huntington Stadium in between times, which would mean he could become available in late March or early April.

He has been in the stands for some of the pre-season fixtures and head coach Gary Thornton would love him to be back as a player too.

“We’ve spoken about it,” he said. “He’s keen to come and play for us before going to Australia. Nothing has been decided just yet but it’s something we’re looking at. I thought he went well last year and it’s something we’re keen on.”

Pickets, who returned from a one-match ban to be sent off in his final game for the Knights after hitting Batley’s Jonny Campbell, has been back at Beverley this winter, playing in National Three North.

He was sin-binned in his latest outing.

Thornton added that he would have to fight – in the other sense of the word – for a place in the Knights line-up should he return.

“It would be a pay-as-you-play agreement and so it depends how we’re doing,” he said.

“We’d be four games in by the time he becomes available and hopefully we’ll be going well and, if so, he would have to prove himself to get back in. We’ve already got a decent squad – but we would be silly to rule out (re-signing) a player of Joe’s ability.”

Meanwhile, the Knights have released half-back Jack Pickerill by mutual consent.

The 21-year-old, who arrived from Featherstone in the off-season, was set to start the season down the pecking order at Huntington Stadium.

He has also struggled to get to training due to work commitments.

He is likely to join Castleford-based National Conference League premier division club Lock Lane ARLC.

• THE Knights’ Championship One match at South Wales Scorpions on June 21 has been switched to Blackwood RFC’s Glan-Yr-Afon Park ground.

The Scorpions have moved this year to Maesteg RFC but this match is an on-the-road fixture to showcase pro rugby league in South Wales. Blackwood is about 45 minutes nearer to York.