ONE of England’s most highly-rated dual-code juniors in recent years is set to sign for York City Knights – and he’s a York-born lad to boot.

Former Easingwold School pupil George Elliott, who turned 20 last month, is ready to put pen to paper on a one-year deal at Huntington Stadium after three years in Leeds’ academy.

The three-quarter – who is the son of the late former York Wasps chief executive Phil Elliott – represented England Under-16s and England Academy in rugby union and, after first trying out rugby league as a 15-year-old, played for England U16s and England U18s in the 13-a-side code too.

He was tipped as a future Great Britain international by none other than York RL legend Rich Hayes but, having found first-team opportunities limited with the Super League Grand Finalists this year, he takes a step back to Championship rugby, hopefully to then take two steps forward.

Knights general manager Ian Wilson said: “He’s a big, athletic, quick centre or winger. He’s an excellent trainer, he’s got a great attitude, and is a good lad on and off the field. He might have come to league later than others but he will have been well-coached at Leeds over the last three years.

“We’re excited to see what he can do in the Championship and hopefully he can make a three-quarter shirt his own.”

Having first played union with York RUFC and his school aged 13, Elliott joined New Earswick All Blacks ARLC aged 15, primarily to “boost his fitness”. County, regional and international honours came in both codes. His union skills also won him a sixth-form scholarship at Giggleswick School.

He signed a dual-code contract with Leeds Rugby in January 2008, making his way through the Rhinos’ youth system and also turning out for sister union club Leeds Carnegie. He had initially joined Carnegie in September 2007, but 12 months ago opted to concentrate on rugby league and went on to make one Super League appearance this year.

He now joins his home-town club, becoming the sixth North Yorkshire lad signed on at York for 2012, the others being Davey Burns, Joe Hemmings, Ed Smith, Ben Dent and Kris Brining. Jack Stearman is also expected to come back.

Wilson said: “He’s really keen to play for his home-town team and it will be good for the fans to see another North Yorkshire player in the first team.”

The signing owes a lot to Mark Pepper at York-based Grosvenor Financial Consultants, who employ Elliott and will sponsor the player in 2012. Pepper is a partner in Leeds Rugby and a follower of both the Knights and York RUFC.

Wilson said: “Mark has played quite a big part in George signing, giving him the opportunity for employment while playing in a part-time environment. We’re extremely grateful to Grosvenor Financial Consultants for their assistance. They’ve also committed to being his player sponsor for the year.

“George has got aspirations to be a full-time professional rugby league player but it’s good to have something to fall back on or do alongside his rugby at this stage of his career.

“He’s got a good opportunity to show what he can do in the Championship. More and more Championship players seem to be going up to Super League now compared to the last few years, and we hope that will be the case for George in the next couple of years.”

Former York captain Hayes, who coached Elliott when the then teenager was with All Blacks U16s, rated him highly.

On his signing for Leeds, Hayes said: “He can go all the way, without a doubt. He’s got fantastic feet, speed, strength, good hands, good awareness, and he’s a good lad with a good attitude towards training.”