St Helens have today confirmed the signing of Catalans Dragons forward Matt Whitley on a two-year deal from the start of the 2024 campaign.
Whitley joins the Red Vee after a five year spell in the South of France, in which he played in two Grand Finals-including the 2021 Final against his new employers.
Speaking on his move to the Totally Wicked Stadium, Whitley said: “I’m over the moon! I’ve been looking forward to this since I was a little lad and for it to be finally happening it is something I’m really excited about.”
He added: “It feels like a full circle moment, I spent a lot of my younger playing days at Saints but had to go elsewhere at 16, so to come back again now, a more established player I’m really looking forward to it.”
Whitley grew up supporting the Saints, and worked with the club’s service area programme which trained and worked with young players ahead of club scholarship systems commencing around the age of fourteen.
The powerful back-rower has now made the decision to move to his boyhood club after a five year spell with Les Dracs, in which he recorded 103 appearances for the French club and scored 35 tries.
He also won the 2021 League Leaders Shield with the Dragons, and played in the 2021 and 2023 Super League Grand Final during his time in France.
Speaking to the club’s website, Whitley spoke how these Old Trafford heartbreaks have made him hungry to taste success with his boyhood club.
“Saints know what it takes to win the big games and always are fighting for silverware,” he said. “I hopefully can add to that and we can go one step further than this year and I can get that Super League winners ring I’ve been looking for”.
He added: “I’ve made it to two Grand Finals now but lost both, it’s not a feeling I want to keep having – I want to get that win. It adds to the experience and the hunger, and I’ll be working as hard as ever to get that next year”.
St Helens Head Coach Paul Wellens spoke highly of the England Knights international, saying: “We are very happy to have acquired the services of Matt, not only is he a great player but having met him he is a really nice bloke too, that is something we look for when we bring in players into the Club”.
He added: “He has shown at the back end of the year with Catalans that he is comfortable competing in high-intensity games and that is what we are all about here. It’s great to have him on board, he adds competition for places as well which is really healthy for a team that wants to grow and improve.”
Wellens also touched on the strength of the Saints squad for next year and how Whitley adds another selection headache.
“It’s going to be a headache to try and pick our best seventeen next year, particularly if everyone is fit,” said the Saints boss. “But as we have seen throughout the course of 2023 and 2022, through the year you miss players for various reasons at times. The key to any successful team is having not just a strong team, but a strong squad as well, and that’s what we’ve looked to assemble for next year.”