He has had a storied career at the Dogs in recent years but all good stints have to come to an end, as Canterbury Bulldogs in-form back-rower Frank Pritchard will depart the club at season’s end.
The new challenge will see the 31-year old play for Hull FC in the English Super League, after signing with the club for for the next two seasons, with an option for a third in favour of the club.
Pritchard, a former Kiwi international and current Samoan representative player, made his NRL debut in 2003 with the Penrith Panthers before he joined the Bulldogs side. In total, he has played 236 NRL games, has 27 caps for New Zealand and 4 caps for Samoa.
With the Super League continuing to grow and develop as a rugby league competition, Pritchard is excited by the opportunity that lies ahead.
â€œThe English Super League is continuing to grow as a competition and to be able to go over there and continue as a professional athlete is exciting,â€ Pritchard said.
â€œIâ€™ve been blessed with my time in the NRL and I thank everyone at both the Panthers and Bulldogs from over the years.
â€œItâ€™s not over yet though and Iâ€™ll be committing more than ever to leave at the end of the season with the ultimate prize and I believe we have a group here at the Bulldogs who are more than capable of doing so.â€
Pritchard has long been a fan favourite at the Dogs and CEO Raelene Castle was quick to wish him all the best in his new challenge in England.
â€œFrank is a fan favourite who we thank for his time here at the club,â€ Castle said.
â€œHeâ€™ll definitely be missed and we wish him all the best for the future.”
Having worked with Pritchard for some years now, Bulldogs coach Des Hasler says his service to the club and the leadership he has shown will not be forgotten.
â€œFrank has been a leader amongst the playing group since arriving at the club and I know heâ€™ll want to continue to perform on the field through until the end of the season,â€ Hasler said.
With several other overseas clubs vying for Pritchard’s signing, Hull FC coach Lee Radford is pleased that the back-rower chose Hull FC and knows how good his pedigree is.
“Frank is a quality signing. He is going to be a real hit in this competition and as a former club captain at the Bulldogs, a Grand Final winner and a top New Zealand international for some years, his CV speaks for itself,” said Radford.
“The fact we had to fight so hard against three or four other clubs in Super League to get his signature and Canterbury’s reluctance to see him go speaks volumes and is a real sign of his quality and the stature of the man.
“Having spoken to him he is desperate to come over here make an impression and be successful at this club, which is what we want.”
With plenty of young back-rowers in their ranks, the club are now blessed with veterans galore, all of whom can act as mentors for the younger players.
“His skill set for a back rower is up there with the best in the world and he will be a great addition for us to play alongside Gareth Ellis and Mark Minichiello; that is a very exciting prospect.
“All three are fantastic role models for their piers to look up to and that will be great for our young back rowers like Dean [Hadley], Jack [Downs] and Jansin [Turgut].
“Our recruitment is really taking shape but we’ve still got a few irons in the fire to complete what we’re looking to do with our squad for next season and we might have a few more announcements over the coming weeks.”