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Leeds Rhinos confirm major NRL signing but his partner’s future is up in the air

Leeds Rhinos have signed Samoan international Sam Lisone from NRL club Gold Coast Titans on a two year contract for the 2023 Betfred Super League season. 

Lisone has won four caps for Samoa including appearing at the 2017 World Cup and has made nearly 150 NRL appearances during his career at the Titans and New Zealand Warriors. Born in Auckland, he will reunite with Leeds Rhinos Head Coach Rohan Smith who coached him in the Warriors U20s earlier in his career. 

Smith is delighted to have captured the 28-year-old to bolster his pack for next season. He added, “Sam is a skilful forward who is big and aggressive but also has great footwork. I am sure he will settle in well to life at the Rhinos as he has always been a tremendous team player who brings a great deal of experience from the NRL having played nearly 150 first grade games.”

The 28-year-old is looking forward to working with Rohan Smith again, he commented, “I am excited to join up with the Rhinos. I have never been to England but I am keen to get over there. I have heard a lot of good stuff about the club and I can’t wait to get over and meet the fans. 

“It is a new chapter for me and a fresh start, not just for playing but a new lifestyle, in a new country. I have got a lot of mates in Super League and I grew up in Auckland with David Fusitu’a, he’s probably one of the reasons why I wanted to come to Leeds because we were childhood friends. 

“Rohan and I had a very close relationship when he was at the Warriors and I worked closely with him and he helped me a lot with my game. I have always liked what he was about; the way he trains his teams. He gave me a call and, to be honest, we never stopped talking, when he told me there could be a position at Leeds for me, my heart was set on the move straight away. You only need to look at what he did at Leeds this year, taking the team into the Grand Final, to know how good he is,” added Lisone.

Whilst Lisone will need to wait for the usual paperwork to be completed before he can fly to Leeds, his partner Georgia Hale will be at Headingley in the coming weeks for the Womens Rugby League World Cup. Hale is vice captain of the New Zealand Ferns. Like Lisone, she has played for New Zealand Warriors and Gold Coast Titans. Lisone added, “Georgia is over in the next few weeks for the World Cup and I know she is going to come to Headingley to have a look around. I’ll leave her future up to her but it is great to know that the Rhinos are serious about their mens and womens teams, as that is important to us.”

Leeds Rhinos Chief Executive Gary Hetherington added, “We look forward to welcoming Sam to the Rhinos. I would like to thank the Gold Coast Titans and Sam’s management team for the professional manner the whole process has been dealt with. I am sure Sam will settle in well at Headingley and I am become a fan favourite.”

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