Super League champions Leeds Rhinos have announced a swap deal with Penrith Panthers that will grant full-back Zak Hardaker his wish to play in the NRL.
The transfer-listed England international and reigning Man of Steel will make the move to Sydney immediately, with Papua New Guinea hooker James Segeyaro, 25, joining the Rhinos to the end of the season as part of the deal.
The details of any potential permanent deal are unclear given 25-year-old Segeyaro HAS BEEN RELEASED by Penrith while Hardaker has more than three years of his contract to run.
The transfer exchange ends Leeds’ search for a new hooker while Hardaker, 24, will get the chance to realise his ambition of playing in Australia.
Leeds say the deals are initially for the remainder of the 2016 season with a view to a potential long-term arrangements. Hardaker remains on the list at £300,000 while Segeyaro is out of contract with the Panthers this year.
Leeds coach Brian McDermott said: “It is pleasing that we have been able to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.
“Zak goes with our best wishes and I am pleased for him that he has been able to fulfil his ambition of playing in the NRL.
“When Zak came to us to request a move, it was always going to be important that we were able to strengthen our group and in James Segeyaro we have a great opportunity to bring in a highly-rated player into our group.”
Panthers executive general manager Phil Gould, added: “This is truly exciting for the Panthers to have a current English international joining the club for the remainder of the 2016 season.
“Zak is an outstanding footballer. With long-term injuries to our Kiwi international centres Dean Whare and Peta Hiku, Zak’s arrival at the club is very timely indeed.
“Zak wants to prove himself in the NRL competition and may well consider a longer stint in Australia if all goes well. It will be a fantastic experience for Zak and for the Panthers”.