Newcastle league: Joel Edwards walks out on Lakes for French deal

Lakes United’s 2018 premiership campaign has been dealt a savage blow with star recruit Joel Edwards walking away from a contract with the club to play in France.

The former Knights, Canberra Raiders and Wests Tigers forward signed with the Seagulls a month ago and was all set to join the coal mining workforce after his 107-game NRL career ended.

But an offer from French Elite 1 Championship defending premiers Limoux Grizzlies just after Christmas dramatically changed the landscape.

“It’s an opportunity to still play at a really good level and for my wife and I to see more of the world,”Edwards said.

“It’s tough on Lakes and I went to Toddy [Lakes coach Todd Edwards] straight away to explain it and he was really good about it.

“The club over there is looking after us with a car and a house and it’s a six month deal that I didn’t want to miss out on.” 

The French competition kicked off a month before Christmas but depending on how quickly visas can be arranged, it may not be until the end of this month or early February before Edwards gets over there.

“There will probably only be eight to 10 games left depending on how the team goes and I could be back home in June-July,” he said.

But because of the player points system,  getting a start in the Newcastle competition when he returns may be unlikely.

Edwards’ departure is a bitter pill for Lakes to swallow with the club dropping out of the race to sign former Dragons backrower Jake Marketo after securing the former Cessnock junior. 

With 240 points up his sleeve, coach Edwards will go back into the market-place but attracting a big name this late may prove difficult.