Rhinos sign up Tongan superstar

Konrad Hurrell against England in the 2017 World Cup semi final

Leeds Rhinos have agreed a three year contract with Tongan superstar Konrad Hurrell, 27, from NRL side Gold Coast Titans.

Hurrell was part of the Tonga side that reached the World Cup semi final last year and is in the Tonga squad preparing to take on Australia in Auckland on Saturday. He has played seven seasons in the NRL having made his debut with the New Zealand Warriors in 2012. He moved to Gold Coast Titans in 2016 and has made 116 appearances in the NRL scoring 55 tries in the process.

Born in Tofoa in Tonga, he has represented his home country in the last two World Cups. He originally started playing the game at Mount Albert Lions having moved to New Zealand when he was 17 to complete his schooling at Auckland Grammar School on a rugby union scholarship.

He had expected to begin a career in Rugby Union but turned to Rugby League in 2011 when he joined the Warriors’ under-20s team and proceeded to score 22 tries in 21 games. Less than a year later, he was making his NRL debut for the Warriors in round one of the 2012 season.

With his bullocking runs he became a crowd favourite almost instantly and he will team up with his Tongan team mate Tui Lolohea at the Rhinos and be coached by former Tongan Assistant Coach Dave Furner at Emerald Headingley.

Commenting on the signing Leeds Rhinos Director of Rugby Kevin Sinfield said, “We are delighted to have secured a player of international class like Konrad. Over the years, Rhinos fans have always loved a strong running centre and Konrad certainly fits that bill. I would like to thank Gold Coast Titans for the professional manner in our dealings with Konrad that will allow him to take up this exciting opportunity with the Rhinos. He will provide a real strike threat for us in the centres and it is already exciting to think about Konrad and Kallum next season with our new look options at half back pulling the strings,” added Sinfield.

Leeds fans will get to see Hurrell for the first time in action on Boxing Day when the Rhinos take on Wakefield Trinity at Emerald Headingley in the Wetherby Whaler Festive Challenge, kick off 11.30am.

Hurrell added, “I’m looking forward to getting to Leeds and especially having the chance to work with Dave Furner again. I have done a lot with Dave in the Tongan camp over the last few years and he has helped me a lot. I am excited about the move and the next three years. One of my best mates is Nate Peteru and he has told me about what I can expect so I am excited about the move.

“When I ask people about playing in Super League they always say how enjoyable it is. I just want to play my part in the team and hopefully we can achieve success together.  I have heard that the fans are crazy over in England and that is something that I am looking forward to. I have spoken to Dave Furner about what he expects from me and he thinks my style will suit the game over there. I just need to do my job; do the hard running and make my tackles and the rest should take care of itself.

“Part of the attraction for me was the changes that Dave Furner is looking to bring in at the club. He has been looking to recruit quality players to add to the squad and it is an exciting time to be joining the club. I haven’t managed to win a Premiership ring in the NRL but I feel like I am coming into my prime and the plan is to try and help Leeds get back up to challenging for honours so I can achieve success over the next three years.

“I have heard that the fans are really loud and they love the game. I can’t wait for the big games at Emerald Headingley and playing in front of those guys,” added Hurrell.