FORMER York City Knights loanee James McDonnell has said the opportunity to join Leeds Rhinos “was too good to turn down”.

McDonnell has signed a two-year deal with Betfred Super League giants Leeds, beginning from next year, which will end his time at hometown club Wigan Warriors.

The back-rower made his Wigan debut against St Helens in 2020 before gaining more regular game-time in a spell on loan at York last year.

The 22-year-old made seven appearances for the Knights, five of those ending in victory for James Ford’s side, including triumphs over Widnes Vikings, Whitehaven and Newcastle Thunder.

McDonnell has since joined Leigh Centurions on dual registration, scoring five tries in 14 appearances so far this season for the Betfred Championship leaders and earning himself a move to 11-time champions Leeds.

“Leeds is a massive club and I was really pleased to accept their offer," McDonnell said.

“Working with Rohan Smith was a big pull for me. He was the first person I met and had a conversation with and he is the type of coach I want to learn from.

“This will be my first step outside of Wigan but I am looking forward to moving over to Leeds and starting a new chapter.

“I came over to Headingley a few weeks ago and Rohan gave me a tour around the stadium, which is world class.

“You can see already the difference that Rohan is having on the squad and this is a new start for me and I want to have success with the Rhinos.

“The club has a massive fan base and hopefully we can give them plenty to celebrate.

“Moving away from my hometown club was a massive decision for me.

“I have loved every minute at Wigan and feel proud and privileged to have played for them.

“It was hard to say no to the stay but I knew this opportunity was too good to turn down.”