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Leigh Leopards annonce capture of Aaron Pene

Leigh Leopards

The worst-kept secret in Super League is out, as Leigh Leopards have finally confirmed the signing of Aaron Pene from the Melbourne Storm. Pene was granted an immediate release by the Storm on the 24th of May this year, with the club stating that he was leaving to take up an offer from an English Super League side. 

Pene joined Melbourne partway through the 2019 season and made his debut against St George Illawarra in round 20 the following year. After spending the 2022 season with the New Zealand Warriors, he returned to the Storm on a two-year deal at the beginning of 2023. He has played 32 NRL games in total across five years.

Pene’s move to Leigh was facilitated by the departure of Ben Nakubuwai, who joined Featherstone Rovers on loan for the remainder of 2024. Nakubuwai’s departure freed up a quota spot for Pene to join the Leopards.

Pene will take up an initial contract for the remainder of the 2024 season, which will run until the end of the 2026 season.

Pene to join Leigh Leopards

Leigh Leopards

Credit: Imago Images

Speaking on Sky Sports’ the Verdict, pundit Jenna Brooks confirmed the deal had completed. Brooks stated:

“We can start with some exciting news coming out of Leigh. We can confirm the Leopards have signed forward Aaron Pene on a two and a half year deal. The prop forward will be available to make his Leopards debut this weekend in Perpignan”

Pene joins Leigh with the club hanging on to their play-off hopes by their fingertips, as they attempt to recover from a slow start to the season. An army of travelling Leigh fans will accompany them to the South of France this weekend for their game with the Catalans Dragons, with up to 1,500 tickets being sold.

The travelling Leigh fans will be hoping that Pene can give the club an immediate lift. They lost their last fixture before the Challenge Cup break 12-0 away at Hull KR, having wasted several big opportunities to score.

Lam looking forward to working with Pene

Credit: Imago Images

Speaking in a club statement confirming the announcement, Head of Rugby, Chris Chester, stated his belief that Pene would be a brilliant signing and that he was someone the Leopards had been tracking for a long time. Chester said:

“This is a brilliant signing for the club who I’ve been tracking for the last 12 months. It’s a signing fans should be really excited by.

“He’s an explosive and powerful player who brings NRL experience and he’s someone who can add a lot this season and beyond.”

Meanwhile, Leigh’s Head Coach, Adrian Lam, stated his excitement at working with Pene for the next two and a half years. He believes Pene is a signing which is typical of his time at the club, and he expects big things. Lam said:

“Aaron Pene is a real Adrian Lam style of Rugby League player. He’s someone we’ve been working to bring in for a while and I’m looking forward to working with him.”

Announcement follows a series of teases on Social Media

Leigh Leopards owner Derek Beaumont

Credit: Imago Images

The announcement of Pene was teased by Leigh in a series of tweets posted throughout the morning. The first post contained the caption, “the Pene is mightier than the sword” hinting that news was imminent.

The second post gave the timing of the announcement, suggesting that Leigh fans tune into Sky Sports News at 3:30 for news of a signing.

The third contained images of different pens and penne pasta, cut with flashes of Pene’s face.

Later, the club posted a barely concealed image of Pene, with the caption “New signing clue, We’ve cleverly concealed our new signing behind this black box, can you work out, from the parts you can see who our new signing is?”

Before finally, posting an image with the caption “has the Pene dropped yet?”

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