MARQUEE SIGNING Trent Merrin insists he is committed to Leeds Rhinos and determined to help bring success back to Emerald Headingley.
The 29-year-old former Australia and New South Wales prop has ended weeks of speculation over his future by signing a four-year contract
News of Rhinos’ interest in Merrin broke at the end of October, but reports in Australia last week suggested he was set to stay at Penrith Panthers.
Leeds remained hopeful of getting their man and yesterday confirmed him as their second marquee signing after Tongan centre Konrad Hurrell.
Merrin began his NRL career at St George-Illawarra Dragons and was a substitute when they crushed Sydney Roosters in the 2010 Grand Final.
He joined Penrith in 2016 and is celebrated for his experience and leadership in the pack, something Rhinos lacked last season.
“They are a very prestigious club and I want to come over and build a great culture and make some great memories with some great players.”Trent Merrin
“It’s something I haven’t ticked off,” he said of playing in England.
“It is a great opportunity to get in there and rip in and set a good standard and achieve some great goals.
“I am a footballer and that’s what I love to do. Now I’ve got some clarity on my future it is great to come to a new country and to step out of my comfort zone.
“I’m looking forward to starting at Leeds and seeing how far we can take them.”
Merrin stressed he is not coming to England for a pay day or an easy end to his career.
“There’s a lot I want to come over and achieve,” he added. “As a footballer you want to put your best foot forward and have success.
“They are a very prestigious club and I want to come over and build a great culture and make some great memories with some great players.”
Merrin made 205 appearances in the NRL and played 13 times in State of Origin as well as winning seven Test caps.
That makes him Leeds’ highest-profile Australian signing since Danny Buderus a decade ago and he said he is thrilled to be following in big footsteps.
“Players have left this country and gone over there and done some great things,” he reflected.
“For them to set the standard, it is great to do the same thing, come over and hopefully have some success and achieve a few goals.”
Merrin’s move to England will reunite him with Rhinos boss Dave Furner who was an assistant-coach during his time in the Kangaroos camp.
The front-rower, whose final cap was earned against New Zealand last year, joked: “It will be great to be coached by an Aussie – and understand his accent!
“It is a great opportunity to be coached by someone who was a great player and is a great coach.”
Though he has toured England, scoring a try when Australia beat New Zealand at Anfield in the 2016 Four Nations final, Merrin said he and his partner are looking forward to living here.
“One thing that excites us the most is to get out of our country and leave our comfort zone and test the waters and experience new things,” he said.
“That is one of the main attractions. I’ve spoken to a few players and it’s a great culture I’m coming into. The crowd are something special, I’ve been told; that’s one of the things I’m excited to get amongst – hopefully tie everyone together and have some fun along the way.”
Rhinos director of rugby Kevin Sinfield described Merrin as “an international-class forward who was a regular last season for Penrith Panthers in the NRL”.
He said: “He has an outstanding reputation in Australia for his leadership within a group and is someone who has played for a decade at the highest level of the game.
“He will complement our current group of forwards and is another indication of the ambition of the club to move forward into a new exciting era.”
Merrin’s arrival date will be confirmed once paperwork has been completed, but he is expected to be training with Leeds by early next month.