ANY hope York City Knights fans had of pack star Joel Edwards returning to Bootham Crescent have been dashed - after the Australian agreed a deal with League One club Newcastle Thunder.

The former NRL ace, who played for Newcastle Knights, Canberra Raiders and Wests Tigers down under, proved a key player for York in their League One title run-in last season.

There had been hopes he would return to bolster the pack for their Championship challenge this term, too.

However, his only appearance at Bootham Crescent will now come in the 1895 Cup on June 2 when the Tynesiders come the Minster city for a second round tie.

A statement from the League One club said: "Newcastle Thunder have secured the services of accomplished NRL forward Joel Edwards for the remainder of 2019, as the club strengthen their options for the second half of the season.

"The 30-year-old back-row brings experience from 107 first-grade games in the southern hemisphere’s premier competition with stints at Canberra Raiders, Newcastle Knights and West Tigers.

"A powerful player in both attack and defence, Thunder fans can look forward to seeing hard-hitting tackles, strong running and an excellent offloading game from a player who also has experience of playing at the top end of Betfred League One.

"He was part of the York City Knights team that earned promotion to the Betfred Championship as champions in 2018 and has also played in France’s Elite One Championship with Limoux Grizzlies.

"Though primarily a back-rower, Edwards can also fill in at front-row and loose-forward, bringing vital versatility to complement his skills and experience.

"Arriving in North East later this week, the player will have an opportunity to adjust to his new club and get to know his team-mates before heading into the action as a Thunder player."

Thunder head coach Simon Finnigan said: “We’ve done our homework on him. He had a good stint at York and they speak very highly of him. I’m pretty happy with our squad but Joel will be a good addition to our middle unit.

“He’ll come in and add more competition for places and will have to fight for his spot like the rest of them.

“He is a good pro, and has NRL experience so we’d expect him to come in and keep them standards. He is a very good defender and consistent in a lot of actions, which is something that our middles are good at as well so he is joining a pretty good company.”