It continues the current trend of English players coming into the NRL system, with the New Zealand Warriors joining the party on this occasion, as Leeds Rhinos youngsters Mason Tonks and Jordan Baldwinson have signed contracts to play with the Warriors NYC side.
Both 18 and both forwards, it was a recent trip to the UK by CEO Wayne Scurrah and General Manager of Football Operations Dean Bell that piqued their interest in the duo, with the club excited at the opportunity to have two young British talents in their ranks.
â€œWeâ€™re really excited about signing Jordan and Mason. For us, this is the start of something new and something we see working very well for our club and for the game generally,â€ said Scurrah.
â€œJordan has already made his Super League debut this year and Mason is highly regarded as well. While theyâ€™re only very young, theyâ€™ve both got the qualities needed to become NRL players of the future.
â€œWeâ€™re seeing more and more evidence of players from Super League clubs having success in the NRL. Adrian Morley, Gareth Ellis and Sam Burgess have led the way while South Sydney is doing a great job developing the other Burgess boys into NRL players as well.â€
Stacey Jones, currently the Warriors junior Recruitment and Pathways coach and soon-to-be NYC coach, says he welcomes the signing of the talented English forwards.
â€œTheyâ€™re two young quantum volume pills boys with big reputations and Iâ€™m sure theyâ€™re going to make a real difference to our squad,â€ he said.
â€œWeâ€™re committed to developing New Zealand players but weâ€™re also keen to have the best players in our system wherever they come from.
â€œLike Dean, Iâ€™ve seen firsthand what sort of talent there is in England. Itâ€™s going to be of real benefit to us having strong relationships in the United Kingdom.â€
The duo themselves are pleased with the opportunity to join the club, with Baldwinson believing the physicality of the NRL and NYC competitions is one he will look forward to.
â€œIâ€™m so excited about the opportunity to join the Warriors,â€ he said.
â€œI recently made my Super League debut for Leeds and the club wanted to keep me but Iâ€™ve always admired the NRL. Itâ€™s such a tough competition and I believe it will make me a better player being exposed to the intense competition week in, week out.â€
Tonks, who has also been involved with the first side, is also looking forward to the opportunity to join the Warriors.
â€œItâ€™s a big move leaving home to come down to New Zealand but I really look forward to the challenge,â€ Tonks said.
â€œI spent some time in Australia three years ago as part of a school exchange programme and enjoyed that and the profile rugby league enjoys in the southern hemisphere.â€