Championship side add World Cup star in huge promotion push

Featherstone Rovers have made plenty of signings this off-season and are adding quality as well as quantity with their most recent acquisition of Papua New Guinean forward McKenzie Yei.

On top of signing the promising 25-year-old World Cup star, Rovers have also extended their captain James Lockwood for a further year to keep him till at least the end of the season.

Yei and the extended Lockwood will be part of a squad led by Super League legend Sean Long who has assembled plenty of talent in his first head coaching job, as he takes over from Brian McDermott.

Rovers have added Salford Red Devils star Elijah Taylor, Warrington Wolves’ young half-back Riley Dean on loan, former Wigan Warriors centre Chris Hankinson, Catalans Dragons prop Mathieu Cozza and Thomas Lacans who was brilliant in the Championship for Newcastle last season.

Yei joins from Queensland Cup side Queensland Capra after a superb performance at the World Cup where he represented Papua New Guinea.

Long told the clubs site: ““I’m really pleased that we’ve secured McKenzie’s signature, it’s a real coup for us. I’ve watched him over the last three years both at international and club level and he’ll add some real punch to our squad.”

A club statement announced the news and showed the reaction of CEO Martin Vickers.

“I think McKenzie is the missing piece of the puzzle that we’ve been looking for, he was clearly a threat to opponents during the World Cup and I’m pleased we’ve been able to land his signature.

“I have to highlight the fact that this signing has only been possible because of the immense show of support we’ve received from Featherstone supporters, be that through Membership purchases or retail purchases, the dedication of our fans never ceases to amaze me, thank you.”

McKenzie himself also commented: ““I’m looking forward to a new career in the UK with a progressive Club like Featherstone Rovers. I enjoyed playing in the UK during the World Cup and I was fortunate enough to meet the coach Sean Long.  I’m excited to be working with him and carrying on a strong tradition of PNG players at Featherstone Rovers.  

“I’m looking forward to working hard and playing my part in taking Featherstone Rovers to promotion to Super League in 2023 and I appreciate the opportunity to be part of this club.”

The news of Lockwood extending was something Long was very pleased about.

““I coached Locky when I was here in 2013, he’s an exceptional leader and radiates all the qualities that we associate with this club; toughness, doggedness and determination.”

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