Leigh have confirmed the signing of Kiwi forward James Bell from Toulouse Olympique for 2021.
The 26-year-old started his career with New Zealand Warriors, making two NRL appearances, but has spent the past two years in France where he has been a standout player for Sylvain Houles’ side.
A Scotland international, Bell will now make the switch to Lancashire, where he will be part of a Centurions forward pack that already includes the likes of Adam Walker, Matty Gee and Mark Ioane.
“I have built a really good relationship with John Duffy through my involvement with Scotland.” Bell said. “I was so excited when he told me that there was a spot for me at Leigh Centurions. It’s lucky I stayed in touch with him.
“I know several of the Leigh squad already including Ben Hellewell and Junior Sa’u and knowing some of the boys will certainly help me fit in.
“It was a major culture change for my partner and I when we moved to France and we had a son while I was there. It was a big lifestyle change and now I’m looking forward to another new experience.”
Leigh head coach Duffy added: “James is a quality player and a quality person. He is a very humble man and totally dedicated to his goal of playing in Super League. I loved watching him during the World Cup, he’s a loose forward with great ball-playing ability.
“I’m very excited to have him at Leigh, he’s a player I’ve tried to sign before. He’s got great pass selection and gets through a lot of work, sometimes unnoticed. This is a sensational signing for us.”