A favourite son of many Wests Tigers fans and in what is likely to be his rugby league stint, Tigers winger Pat Richards has signed a 1-year deal with the Catalan Dragons.
Richards, 33, has achieved many-a-feat in his long, illustrious career. He made his first-grade debut with the Parramatta Eels before moving to the Wests Tigers. He was a part of the Tigers 2005 premiership winning season before moving to Wigan.
Eight years at Wigan culminated in a return to the NRL for Richards, again with the Tigers, where his kicking exploits have been on show for all to see.
The Tigers are a club that are near and dear to Richards’ heart and whilst he is disappointed to depart the club, the opportunity to finish his career in France alongside family was too good to pass up.
â€œThe opportunity to come back to the Wests Tigers has been great and Iâ€™ve really enjoyed it,â€ said Richards.
â€œI loved playing for the Club again â€” itâ€™s been outstanding â€” and itâ€™s just another opportunity for me now to live in another place and experience another culture, and thatâ€™s something Iâ€™m looking forward to.”
He was quick to thank all those involved at the club during his years at the Tigers.
â€œIâ€™d like to thank all the Wests Tigers fans and teammates over the last two years, for welcoming me back after being away for so long,” said Richards.
â€œMy main focus remains on finishing the year off strongly with Wests Tigers.â€
The Wests Tigers club also thanked the veteran winger for his efforts, who has contributed greatly to the Tigers side for the last two years.
â€œI would like to commend Pat on his contributions to the Club over the past two seasons,â€ Wests Tigers Interim CEO and General Manager of Football Operations Moss said.
â€œHe has been a great servant to the Wests Tigers since returning from Super League.”
The salary cap is a big issue for many teams and the release of Richards was a direct result of the struggles that come with maintaining it.
â€œWe are obviously disappointed to lose a player of his calibre but due to our current salary cap situation, we were unable to make an offer to re-sign Pat,” said Moss.
â€œWe wish Pat well in the next chapter of his career.â€
With a total of 111 games in first-grade NRL to date, Richards has had a storied career. Tigers coach Jason Taylor also praised Richards for his efforts.
â€œWe are all really excited for Patty,â€ he said.
â€œItâ€™s a great opportunity for him and heâ€™s been an absolute pleasure to coach.â€
â€œHe has been a great guy to have at the Club and his professionalism is second to none.
â€œWe wish Pat all the best when he departs for Catalans at end of the year.â€
The key for Catalans was signing a player with a wealth of experience and knowledge of the game and Richards fit that bill perfectly.
“I’m delighted with the signing of Pat Richards,” said Catalans coach, Laurent Frayssinous.
“We were looking for a player with a great experience, and, with more than 300 Super League and NRL appearances, he will help the team, especially the young players we have coming through like Fouad Yaha.
“His try-per-game ratio proves he is a prolific try scorer and his place kicking is second to none.”