YORK City Knights second-row star Joe Batchelor has signed a three-year deal with Super League leaders St Helens - although he won't leave Bootham Crescent until the end of the current season.

The Press revealed in March that Saints were among a number of clubs eyeing up the 23-year-old and it has now been confirmed they have won the race for his signature for 2019 onwards.

His contract at York expires at the end of this term and so the Knights will receive no transfer fee when he makes the switch.

Batchelor was named the Knights and The Press Player of the Year last season, and his two tries in Saturday's League One win at former club Coventry Bears took him to double figures in 11 appearances so far in 2018.

The 6ft speed merchant said he remained committed to the Knights' promotion push.

“I’m delighted to have signed with St Helens from next season and have the unbelievable opportunity to train in a full-time environment with world-class players and hopefully play Super League rugby," he said.

“I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone at York, especially Jon Flatman (chairman), Fordy (head coach James Ford) and all the coaching staff for the amount of hard work they’ve put into getting me to this stage.

“I am still 100 per cent committed to finishing my year at York and making sure it ends with promotion to the Championship.”

Saints boss Justin Holbrook said: “Joe is a player we have had our eyes on this season. He has been a real standout in Betfred League One and has been very consistent for a competitive York side.

“He is a strong-running second-rower with good skill and he also has a great work ethic.

"He has now matured as a player and hopefully he will continue to improve with us at Saints.

“We are looking forward to welcoming him into our system.”

Batchelor, brother of Wakefield star James, first played under Ford at Wakefield College before joining Sheffield Eagles' academy and then having a year in Australia.

He spent 2016 in League One with Coventry before moving to the Minster city the following year, when he scored 15 tries in 22 appearances in a stellar season.

He attracted Super League interest last year too but signed an improved deal at York for 2018.