IN a surprise move, Hull Kingston Rovers have signed Leeds Rhinos prop Ryan Bailey on a two-year contract.
The ex-Great Britain international, therefore, brings an end to a hugely decorated career with his hometown club where he won six Grand Finals, three World Club Challenge titles and one Challenge Cup with the Rhinos.
Bailey, 30, had been in and out of the Leeds side this season but still had a year remaining on his Headingley deal and - having turned down a chance to move to the NRL last term - always talked about finishing his career there.
He scored 20 tries in 313 games for the Blue and Amber but will now strengthen their Super League rivals who have recently been shorn of Justin Poore, the Australian prop signed from Wakefield Trinity Wildcats who has had to retire due to a serious knee injury.
Bailey, renowned for being one of the most aggressive characters in Super League, said: “I’ve achieved a lot of things at Leeds over a 14-year period but I’m ready for a new challenge at Hull KR.
“It was a difficult decision to leave Leeds; I was born in the city and I’ve won some great finals with the club but now I want to bring some of that experience to Rovers.
“It’s going to be a big challenge but I’m looking forward to it and I’ll be meeting it head on.
“The fans are really passionate and hopefully we can breed a winning culture and start getting to finals.
“We’ve got some really ambitious players who want to win things here at Hull KR and hopefully I can add to that and bring a bit of grunt up front.”
Bailey could debut against Leeds as Hull KR host them on the first day of the new season on February 8.
Willie Poching, Chris Chester’s new assistant at Rovers and someone who played alongside Bailey for five years in Leeds colours before coaching him, too , said: “Ryan is a fantastic signing and an important one for the club.
“With Justin Poore retiring, we lost a lot of experience there and a bit of grunt up front and that’s what Ryan brings to the table.
“He has a wealth of experience at Super League level and also in big games.
“He’s a great athlete, a good trainer and a wonderful player. He gives the impression that he’s a player who plays to the boundaries of the rules at times but he’s aggressive and that’s what you need in a front rower sometimes.”