The PARRAMATTA Eels haveÂ today allowed prominent rake Mark Riddell to walk away from the last season of his NRL contract with the club, so he could link up with UKÂ Super League big guns Wigan after the 2008 season finishes.
While the Eels are comfortable in letting Riddell move on, many will fear the loss of his experience and passion will take away a valuable component of the young Parramatta side. Regardless of Riddell’s on field form, few could match his dynamics in the heat of the battle. Always leading with his defence and fearless runs, it’s a component of NRL players that is impossible to manufacture and almost as tough to replace.
Riddell, theÂ gutsy 27-year-oldÂ bullocking hookerÂ of 167 NRL games for St George Illawarra and the Eels has managed to grabÂ a 3-yearÂ contract with cashed upÂ Wigan.
“Piggy has been ideal for Parra on and off the field since 2005 and he will be aÂ huge asset for Wigan, both in terms of playing strength and in his ability to promote the club and the English game,” Parramatta chief executive Denis Fitzgerald said.
“While we’re sorry to see him go, we acknowledge opportunities such as the one presented by Wigan don’t come along every day, and as such we have agreed to a release from the 2009 portion of his contract.
“We also look forward to Mark having an impact for the Eels in the remainder of their 2008 campaign, and particularly his playing a role in the ongoing development of a talented and highly promising local junior in Matthew Keating.”
WiganÂ boss Ian Lenagan agreed that Riddell joining their club was a huge boost.
“He isÂ just the type of no.9 that Wigan needs to show our forwards the wayÂ and help develop young Michael McIlorum,” Lenagan said.
“He adds bulk, bringsÂ creativity to our attack and is a solid defender who playsÂ decent game time.
“His kicking from hand and goal kicking skills are an additional benefit.
“We are extremely grateful to the Parramatta Club who have agreed to release Mark one year early from his contract to take up this opportunity with Wigan.
“Mark is a great character on the field who will go down very well with the Wigan fans and is looking forward to testing himself in the English Super League.”
Riddell will relocate to the north of England in December 2008.