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Hull FC sign NRL playmaker

Hull FC have announced the signing of NRL utility Joe Lovodua.

The 23-year-old joins the club from NRL grand finalists South Sydney Rabbitohs, signing an initial one-year deal with the Black & Whites.

Primarily a hooker, Lovodua will bring energy and power to the dummy half role, providing extra competition for places in Hull’s pack.

The dynamic ball player will also offer some versatility if required too, with the ability to also play across the back-row and at centre.

A St George Illawarra Dragon junior, the Fijian has worked his way through the grades since 2017 and has been a cornerstone of their New South Wales Cup squad, where he was coached by former Hull FC half back Mathew Head.

Having made 46 appearances in the reserve grade, he moved to the Rabbitohs last season where he continued his eye-catching form and was set to earn a place in Wayne Bennett’s top-30 squad next season – before Hull FC came calling with a Super League opportunity.

Lovodua has already had a good taste of senior rugby league, with his first professional game being one to remember as he made his debut for Fiji at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

He played hooker in four of their five matches, including convincing wins over Wales and USA, as well as the memorable 4-2 victory against New Zealand Warriors and the semi-final clash against eventual winners, Australia.

With eight caps to his name already, he has lined up alongside some high-profile stars such as Kevin Naiqama, Suliasi Vunivalu, Jarryd Hayne, Maika Sivo and Kane Evans.

Speaking on the decision to join the Black & Whites, Lovodua said: “This is an extremely exciting move for myself; it’ll be my first time heading over to England, so I can’t wait to get over there and crack on with pre-season.

“Having played most of my club career in the New South Wales Cup, I feel like this is a really big chance for myself to move my career forward and showcase what I am capable of – I’m coming to Hull to put my best foot forward and give everything for this team.

“I am grateful for the opportunity and the chance to play for such a prestigious club like Hull FC – I have been impressed by the people at the club, the heritage and I’ve heard a lot about the fans and the city.”

He continued, “I know I am not just going to walk straight into the starting squad, but I will be coming to prove myself, do my best for the team, and earn a place in the playing squad each week.

“My preferred position is hooker, I enjoy playing that position, being on the ball in the middle of the park and having an influence on the team going forward and I hope to be able to bring something different to the team.”

In a twist of fate, Lovodua may have been heading to Hull anyway this autumn prior to the Rugby League World Cup being suspended, with the Fijian national team set to be based in the city and playing a match against Australia at the MKM Stadium.

With the World Cup set to go ahead at the end of 2022, it’s another target the 23-year-old hooker has set his sights on.

“It’s crazy how things work out; with the World Cup being postponed and moving to next year, and Fiji being based in Hull and playing there too – I’m motivated to have a big year for Hull, which hopefully should give me a chance to be involved in that squad.

“There are a lot of good Fijian players in both the NRL and Super League at the moment, but I’d take the chance with both hands if I was offered it.”

Lovodua becomes Hull’s second signing ahead of the new season, joining electric winger Darnell McIntosh who is set to join the club from Huddersfield Giants in the coming weeks, having put pen to paper on a three-year deal in August.

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