FORMER Championship Man of Steel Andy Ellis is staying at York City Knights next season - no matter what division they are in.

Chairman Jon Flatman let the news slip at the Knights' fans' forum on Tuesday night that the veteran hooker had signed a one-year extension to his contract at Bootham Crescent.

The 32-year-old former Super League player initially arrived in March this year having come out of semi-retirement, and head coach James Ford believes that, with a full pre-season next term, he can become an even bigger influence on the team.

"He's got obvious ability," said Ford, whose side have bagged a League One play-off place with two games to go. "He's a been a really positive signing for us.

"I didn't expect at the start of the season to bring in a player with that experience and ability - Andy wasn't available initially but, when I found out he was, it was a real boost.

"He missed pre-season and he had some other commitments before he signed. That has limited his game time and a couple of injuries have got in the way.

"But with a full pre-season I'm sure we can get him out there week in week out playing at a really good level, and that will be a massive bonus for the team."

Ellis began his career with Hull KR in 2003, going on to score 18 tries in 50 appearances, and lifting the old Northern Rail Cup in 2005 with victory over Castleford.

He then starred for Barrow during a brief golden era for the Cumbrians, taking them up to the Championship and being named that tier’s Man of Steel after leading them to the 2009 title and the National Rail Cup final. He scored 53 tries in 94 games during three seasons with the Raiders.

He then had nearly three years in Super League with Harlequins (eight tries in 39 games) and Wakefield (10 games) before moving to Featherstone, initially on loan, in 2012, helping them top the Championship that year and again 12 months later.

He briefly retired at the end of 2015 to concentrate on teaching but returned in March 2016 and went on to play 24 times last season, including in all seven matches in the Middle Eights. He played 120 times in all for Rovers, notching 29 tries.

He then hung up his boots again, but Ford convinced him to join the new-look Knights revolution six months ago.

A niggling calf injury has seen him in and out of the line-up in recent weeks, but he played a big part in the thrilling 21-21 draw with Doncaster last Sunday.

His recruitment means there are nine players now signed on for 2018 - Adam Robinson, Brad Hey, Tim Spiers, Ronan Dixon, Ash Robson, Joe Porter, Ellis' fellow hooker Harry Carter, and Hull KR's former Super League star Ben Cockayne.

Ford added: “I’m really pleased to add Andy’s skill, leadership and experience to the squad for next season.

"He’ll form an outstanding partnership with Harry Carter (hooker who and play a very important role in his development also.

"I've enjoyed working with Andy and I'm really pleased with how he's helped younger players to develop.

"I'm looking forward to another year working with him and hopefully he can help the club move on further."

Ellis said: “I’m delighted to get the deal sorted and extend my time at York for a further 12 months.

"York have been great to me since my arrival and it was a very easy decision to extend my stay here.

“The team has improved out of sight since I first arrived and I’m excited to see just how far we can progress.

“The club enjoys first-class facilities so with a full run at pre-season this winter, we should really hit the ground running, no matter what division we’re playing in.

“For now, though, I’m pleased to get the deal sorted and concentrate solely on giving my all for the remainder of 2017.”