Jon Wilkin is one of six eye-catching signings unveiled by Toronto Wolfpack for their third season in the English game.
The Canadian club have acted quickly to bolster their squad for a second campaign in the Championship after narrowly failing to secure promotion to Super League in 2018.
Jon’s signing is exactly what we need when facing the challenges of reaching Super League next yearBrian Noble
Cronulla centre Ricky Leutele, a 28-year-old Samoa international, becomes the Wolfpack’s second marquee player, alongside former Manly Sea Eagles prop Darcy Lussick.
They will be joined at the Lamport Stadium in 2019 by ex-England loose forward Wilkin, Joe Mellor and Tom Olbison from relegated Widnes, Warrington second-rower Bodene Thompson and Castleford prop Gadwin Springer.
Toronto director of rugby Brian Noble said: “Ricky is a huge performer in the NRL and I know he was highly sought after by top clubs over there.
“He will be our second marquee signing and will add quality to an already strong squad.
“Ricky brings size, elusive skill and raw pace to our backline and I genuinely believe he will be a huge addition to both the Wolfpack and the British competition.”
Leutele, who was a Premiership winner with the Sharks in 2016, said: “It was a massive decision for me to leave Australia because that’s all I have known and Cronulla were the first club to give me an opportunity.
“I’m really excited to meet the fans and community in Canada, they look like they get really into and love their sports; it’s great for rugby league as a whole.”
Wilkin, 34, who played for England in the 2008 World Cup, brought his 16-year career with St Helens to a close at the end of the 2018 season.
Noble said: “Jon is a great capture for the Wolfpack. He’s had a stellar career at Super League and international level and has won every honour in the British game.
“He is the ultimate professional on and off the park as well as being tough, highly skilled with tremendous leadership skills and masses of big-game experience.
“His signing is exactly what we need when facing the challenges of reaching Super League next year.”
Half-back Mellor has been a shining light during Widnes’ struggles in Super League and Toronto staved off stiff competition to secure his signature on a three-year deal.
Second-rower Olbison was also a stalwart for the Vikings in their relegation season while Thompson played for the Wolves in the Grand Final last Saturday and France international Springer will be looking to kick-start his career after making only six substitute appearances for Castleford this year.