Wigan prop Ryan Sutton has signed for NRL club Canberra Raiders for the 2019 season.
The 22-year-old joins the Raiders on a two-year deal and will link up with England internationals Josh Hodgson and Elliott Whitehead.
He made his debut for the Warriors in 2014 and has since made over 100 appearances for the club, including winning the Grand Final in 2016 and playing in the 2017 World Club Challenge and Challenge Cup Final.
Canberra Raiders Recruitment and High-Performance Director Peter Mulholland said the signing of Sutton was key for the Green Machine, with the young forward keen to test himself in the NRL: “Ryan is a tremendous young talent who I know was looking for an opportunity to test himself in the NRL and we’re thrilled to have been able to get him into our squad for the next two seasons.
“He’s been in tremendous form for Wigan this season and we’re looking forward to him having a big pre-season with the Raiders and making the move into the NRL.”
Sutton commented, saying his dream to play in Australia made the offer too good to turn down: “Being a young lad from Wigan it was a tough decision to make to leave my hometown club but I’ve always wanted to try my hand in the NRL and this was a great opportunity for me. I’m grateful to all of the coaching staff and players that have helped me develop not just as a player but as a person too.
“I am still a Wigan player this year and I am hungry to leave with more silverware and will give 100% in everything I do until my departure.”
Wigan Executive Director Kris Radlinski also commented:
“It is disappointing to lose a player who we have helped develop through our academy and someone who we believe can and will improve in the future. That said, a Rugby League player only has a short career and Ryan has given five seasons of great service to Wigan.
“Ryan made this decision a long time ago and has been transparent throughout this process. He made no secret of his desire to play in Australia. There were actually no negotiations, Ryan knew that he wanted NRL and stuck firm to that.
“With Ben Flower, Tony Clubb and Taulima Tautai all under contract, the positive form of Romain Navarette and Gabe Hamlin, versatility of Joel Tomkins and Sean O’Loughlin and youngsters such as Callum Field and Samy Kibula waiting for their chance we feel we are well placed to cope with this loss. It also gives us the opportunity to look at the market to see who is available for 2019.
“We wish him every success for the future as he looks to fulfil his dreams overseas.”