London Broncos have signed full-back Richard Mathers from Wakefield Trinity Wildcats on a two-year deal beginning next season.
Mathers, 30, revealed on Tuesday he will be leaving Wildcats at the end of the year after not being offered a new contract.
“He will be one of the highest profile players in the Championship next season.” Broncos coach Joey Grima said of Mathers, who won the Super League title with Leeds Rhinos a decade ago.
“His experience will be great for the Broncos as Richie is close to playing 300 games in the Super League and has experience of the NRL.”
Grima added: “This signing is an indication of how serious we are about where we want to be in 2015 and beyond and we look forward to welcoming Richie, (wife] Sasha and family to our club.”
Mathers - who had interest from rugby union clubs in the midlands and south west - said “It’s a massive move for myself and my family.
“It’s an exciting one and we’re just at the planning stage of moving and bringing the family down and starting a new adventure.
“I’ve always enjoyed the trips down when I’ve played at The Stoop and different places and I’ve always enjoyed being down in London. I never really thought I’d get the opportunity to play down here and it’s one that presented itself quite quickly.”
He added: “I met with Joey up in Leeds last week and I’ve spoken to him numerous times on the phone and really liked the ideas.
“He sold the place, not just on the club and the footy, but as a place to live and the whole package.
“I came down to have a look around with my wife and it’s been an eye opener and an experience we’re looking forward to.
“Having seen the set up at Underhill for training it’s a great facility, it’s all on one site and I’m really looking forward to starting pre-season training.
“I guess it was daunting at first, the relocation part of it, but having spoken to Joey about the rugby side of it, that’s what I’m here to do.
“The challenge is one I’m looking forward to. It’s a different sort of challenge to what I’ve been used to, but Joey’s enthusiasm and the plans he has in place for the club not just next year but for the future, he really sold it to me. I didn’t realise how passionate he was about it.”
Broncos are bottom of Super League and have lost all their games this year.
But Mathers added: “Everyone sees the struggles the Broncos have had this season and it’s not nice.
“I think it’s a blessing in disguise dropping down to the Championship, they’ll have a chance to regroup and get some players together and mount a really serious challenge.
“I do believe that a winning London side will attract the fans and I’ve grown up playing against some great London sides.
“That’s what my challenge is, and that’s what excited me about the challenge, being part of the opportunity to get the Broncos back in Super League.”