When Leigh Leopards’ latest signing will arrive in the UK

Leigh Leopards confirmed the signing of Ava Seumanufagai on a contract until the end of the 2023 season.

The 31-year-old prop forward, who has extensive NRL and Super League experience, is expected to join up with his new teammates later this week.

In fact, the club are hoping he will arrive as soon as Wednesday so he should be ready to go for the new season in 2023 with the club hosting Salford Red Devils in the opening game with Scouting For Girls performing.

Debuting for Wests Tigers in 2013, Seumanufagai has clocked up over 140 appearances in the NRL and enjoyed a two-year spell in the UK with Leeds Rhinos in 2019-20.

Leopards Head of Rugby Chris Chester explained that Head Coach Adrian Lam needed a quota spot replacement for the departed Blake Ferguson, both see Seumanufagai as an ideal fit for the club. At 6ft 2 and weighing in at over 18 stone he will add size, athleticism, and power to the Leopards pack.

“Adrian tasked me with finding another front rower and Ava is a big and athletic body who will take the juice out of the defensive line,” Mr Chester said.

“He’s an experienced player who is highly thought of by coaches I respect in Australia and a couple of my close contacts there both recommended him unreservedly.

“Ava is a great addition to an already strong group and by recruiting a player of this quality in a key position we have used that vacant quota spot wisely.

“I’d like to thank Liam Ayoub for his assistance in getting this deal over the line.”

Born in Wellington, New Zealand Seumanufagai was recruited by Parramatta Eels as a junior before moving to the Tigers in 2012. He went on to make 105 NRL appearances over five seasons, quickly earning a reputation for his consistency and durability. After a short spell at Cronulla, he began his English adventure with the Rhinos in May 2019.

The highlight of his time at Headingley was playing in the Rhinos’ Betfred Challenge Cup-winning side during the Covid-disrupted 2020 season. He played alongside his new Leopards teammate Tom Briscoe in Rhinos’ 17-16 victory over Salford Red Devils behind closed doors at Wembley in October 2020.

Returning to the NRL with the Bulldogs in ’21 scoring nine tries in 173 career games so far.

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