SELWYN St Bernard has called time on his 'Stoke career after accepting an offer to play rugby league for Gateshead.

The big West Indian number 8 is moving to the north-east to play for a team just three divisions below the Superleague.

The 26-year-old is available to play for 'Stoke until November 1, but is unlikely to feature again in the back row for the club he has served with distinction for five years.

Both St Bernard and 'Stoke senior coach Jim Dixon believe it is better to look to the future by playing 18-year-old Tom Northcote and giving him the chance to bed in.

Dixon said: "Selwyn's happy to help out while he's still around, but also feels it's better if someone else came in at number 8. It's better if Tom plays so we can have some continuity in the team."

Dixon admitted it was a blow to lose another experienced performer, but that it wasn't entirely unexpected.

He said: "Selwyn first got offered a league contract at the start of the season, but he wanted to carry on with us. I think it was on his mind though, because, in his recent performances, his mind has definitely been elsewhere.

"His heart probably wasn't in it any more, so he's accepted Gateshead's offer and I think Selwyn is looking forward to the new challenge. He's also been offered rugby development work in schools. With his personality, he'll be great at that."

Dixon added: "He's been a great clubman and we are sorry to see him go, but it happens. We wish him luck and all the best."