YORK City Knights have been rocked in the build-up to both the play-offs and next week's clash with arch-rivals Hunslet by the news inspirational skipper Jack Lee is to quit at the end of the season - and join the Hawks.
However, the 25-year-old insists he remains blue through and through this year and will do his damnedest to get the Knights promoted - even if it is at his new club's cost.
Lee, whose deal at Huntington Stadium runs out in October, says Hunslet's two-year contract offer is the same regardless of which division the Hawks are playing in next season - meaning he will not be better off if they get promoted instead of York.
He also says it is financially "much better" than his present deal, and that the Knights had not approached him about next year until after he had put pen to paper. He had to "look after the best interests of my family".
"The most important thing is I'm a York player until the end of October, my loyalties are with York and I will play as big a part as possible in getting York promoted," Lee told The Press.
"I've had a big offer and could not afford to turn it down. I hadn't been offered anything by York. It's a short career and I need to get the best out of it as I can for my family's sake."
The Press understands Lee was also offered big money by Gateshead - whom the Knights host in Championship One this Sunday - but Hunslet is much closer to the player's home and family near Castleford.
"Hunslet is 15 minutes away from me," he said. "We've just had a baby girl who's now five months old. I need to finish work, get home from training and see my family.
"I've been loyal to York for four and a half years. I've seen them through promotion and I've suffered relegation with them. I've really enjoyed my time here and I want to see another promotion with them, for the team's sake and for the fans, who have been brilliant towards me.
"But then it's time for me to move on and develop somewhere else. I will miss the club and the fans. Their support is brilliant. They've always been there and they've always got behind us, and I want to thank them for that.
"I have nothing against anyone at York. It's just about me moving on and doing what I need to do in the best interests of me and my family."
Lee is a former The Press Player of the Year and currently heads this year's leaderboard. The club's only ever-present this season, he is also the team's top scorer with 18 tries and has now scored in ten consecutive matches - smashing the Knights record of six he shared with Peter Fox.
"There is no question of me deserting anyone at a crucial time in the competition," he added.
"Hunslet know the situation I'm in. They know I want York to win this league and I will try my best to get York promoted.
"If we play Hunslet in the Grand Final, so be it. I'm a York player until the end of the year and if that means Hunslet stay in Championship One then they stay in Championship One."