Chris Chester explains Leigh Leopards’ move for ex-Leeds Rhinos star

Leigh Leopards have confirmed the signing of ex-Leeds Rhinos prop Ava Seumanufagai.

After defeating Leeds Rhinos yesterday thanks to a late try from a former Rhino in Zak Hardaker, owner Derek Beaumont hinted that they had pulled off a major new signing, what he called “the catch of the night.”

He took to Twitter to say:

“Get in there! Now those are the phone calls I like taking from Chezzy [Director of Rugby Chris Chester]! Seems he got the catch of the night last night while I was messing about with lots of tiddlers on my hook! If Carlsberg did Saturdays.”

Now the club have confirmed the signing of another former Leeds man in prop Seumanufagai.

“Adrian tasked me with finding another front rower and Ava is a big and athletic body who will take the juice out of the defensive line,” Director of Rugby Chris Chester said.

“He’s an experienced player who is highly thought of by coaches I respect in Australia and a couple of my close contacts there both recommended him unreservedly.

“He fits in well with what we need and what we want for our club, and we can’t wait to get him over here to join the squad. Hopefully he will be arriving on Wednesday.

“Ava is a great addition to an already strong group and by recruiting a player of this quality in a key position we have used that vacant quota spot wisely.

“I’d like to thank Liam Ayoub for his assistance in getting this deal over the line.”

The prop joined Leeds in May 2019 from Cronulla Sharks debuting against Castleford Tigers.

He would help steer Leeds away from relegation before being a key part of the Rhinos’ side who won the 2020 Challenge Cup against Salford Red Devils.

However, because of the pandemic and a desire to go home and see his family, Seumanufagai left at the end of 2020 and was replaced by King Vuniyayawa who now plies his trade at Salford Red Devils.

As for Seumanufagai, he joined the Canterbury Bulldogs and began forcing his way into the first choice 17 alongside former St Helens man Luke Thompson.

However, going into 2023, he and the club agreed to an amicable release and it was reported down under that he was returning to Super League but this was over two months ago.

But Leigh have been quick to secure his signature after seemingly beginning their pursuit last night having beaten his former club 14-12.

He will likely take the number 27 shirt in 2023 after numbers one to 26 were confirmed recently by the club.

His arrival comes after Beaumont said the club were interested in another middle forward and would make more signings.

They have filled the wing and prop spots they wanted with Umyla Hanley joining from Wigan Warriors but Adrian Lam said that they could make further signings during the 2023 season.

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