Boost for Leeds Rhinos as Kiwi recruit Zane Tetevano receives visa

Star signing Zane Tetevano has received his visa and is clear to begin a three-year contract with Leeds Rhinos.

Friday, 22nd January 2021, 6:02 pm

The club, however, are in no hurry for the New Zealand Test prop to arrive and he could remain in Australia until after their current coronavirus outbreak has eased.

The deal bringing Tetevano to Rhinos was finalised at Christmas and club officials are pleased at how quickly the paperwork has been processed.

The 30-year-old has been training with his former club Penrith Panthers and - with the new season still two months away - coach Richard Agar and director of rugby Kevin Sinfield are happy for that to continue until it is safe for him to travel to England.

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Zane Tetevano. Picture by John Davidson/www.photosport.nz/SWpix.com.

Rhinos this week cancelled training until next Tuesday after six players and a member of staff contracted Covid-19.

Sinfield confirmed: “Zane has now received his visa, which is great news.

“He has been speaking to some of the squad to get to know the boys and is training hard over in Australia.

“With the current lockdown situation here, it is likely he will not travel over until later next month.

Matt Prior is due to arrive back from Australia next month, alongside Tetevano. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

“He is an experienced international with high personal standards for his training [and] to ask him to move over here with his young family and not be able to leave the house for a prolonged period would be unnecessary at this stage.

“The plan at present is for him to come over with Matt Prior when he returns to camp."

Prior, Rhinos’ player of the year in 2020, is still in Australia after his off-season break there.

Tetevano has played in two of the last three NRL Grand Finals, winning the trophy with Sydney Roosters in 2018 and coming off the bench for Panthers in their defeat by Melbourne Storm three months ago.

He has been capped five times by Cook Islands and started in both of New Zealand’s 2019 Test wins over Great Britain, as well as featuring against Australia.

He moved from Roosters and Panthers last season on a two-year deal, but was granted a release from the final year of his contract to join Rhinos.

Tetevano spent three seasons at the Roosters, after beginning his NRL career in 2011 with Newcastle Knights, where he played alongside former Rhinos forward Adam Cuthbertson.

Rhinos’ other overseas signing, Fijian international King Vuniyayawa, is also set to join the club once he has received his visa.

Tetevano and Vuniyayawa will effectively replace Ava Seumanufagai, who was released last month for personal reasons and Cuthbertson, following his move to York City Knights.

St Helens’ new signing Agnatius Paasi was among “about 10” players Rhinos looked at as potential recruits, but Agar confirmed Tetevano was always the “number one target to front our pack up”.

He said: “We are not just getting a player, we’re getting a bloke we know is going to help raise the bar around the place as well, which is exactly what we are looking for.

“We know we are getting someone who really sets the bar high and brings a great intensity to work every single day.

“Some of our boys have been in touch with him and are already forming early relationships and from my conversations with him, he is pumped.

“We sent him some vision of the roles our middles play in our team, our playbooks and he wants to hit the ground running.

“He can’t wait to get here. The two systems he has come out of and the success he has had over the last few years, we think he will be a good fit for us and we will be a good fit for him too.”

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