St Helens have signed Hull KR’s Australian stand-off Travis Burns on a three-year contract from 2015.
The Super League table-toppers say they have paid Rovers a transfer fee of £60,000 for the 30-year-old Burns, who is set to link up with his old Penrith Panthers team-mate Luke Walsh at Langtree Park.
St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus said: “Travis is a key signing for us and will bring both quality and depth to our half-back options and combinations.
“He is a proven and experienced stand-off and will also bring directness and toughness as well as a strong kicking game.”
Burns began his career at Manly and also played for North Queensland Cowboys and the Panthers before moving to Super League with Hull KR in 2013.
He was forced to sit out the first month of last season due to a suspension carried over from the NRL for a high tackle, but went on to make 49 appearances in his two seasons at the KC Lightstream Stadium, scoring eight tries, 84 goals and two drop goals, and also played for the Exiles against England in the summer of 2013.
Burns said: “I want to thank the club, particularly Neil Hudgell and Mike Smith, for the opportunity to come to Hull KR.
“I was staring down the barrel of a long suspension in the NRL and they gave me the chance to come to a great club and made me and my family feel so welcome whilst we’ve been here.
“Leaving the club will be sad but it’s a decision I had to make in the best interests of my family. We only get a small space of time in rugby league to do the best we can and the opportunity at Saints was in the best interests of both parties.
“I am really excited to be joining Saints. It will be great linking with my friend and former team-mate Luke Walsh and what is an exciting and strong squad.”
Hull KR will now step up the search for a replacement for Burns, as well as Canberra-bound hooker Josh Hodgson, with chief executive Mike Smith currently in Australia on a scouting mission.
Chairman Neil Hudgell said: “Travis leaves with our best wishes. We sat down with him to discuss his plans for next season and beyond but whilst we were willing to open negotiations about a contract extension around Easter time next year, we weren’t prepared to commit to a new deal before then.
“We understood his desire for stability with a second child on the way and we gave him permission to speak to other clubs. Saints made us an offer that was too good to turn down and we decided to accept it.
“We are now on the hunt for a new half-back and the fees received for both Travis and Josh Hodgson will be reinvested into the squad and will allow us to spend to the full salary cap next season.”