LEEDS have brought Tonga winger David Fusitu’a from New Zealand Warriors to West Yorkshire on a two-year deal.
The 27-year-old, whose hat-trick helped the Mate Ma’a beat New Zealand in the group stages of the 2017 World Cup, has played 108 times for the Auckland club, scoring 61 tries.
But his career has stalled over the last three years, during which he made only 28 appearances, with six tries, due to injury and returning to New Zealand after his club had to set up base in Australia because of the pandemic.
It is thought the Warriors, where Fusitu’a was the longest-serving player, having made his debut in 2014, and where he had two years left on his contract, will pay a proportion of his Leeds salary.
The Rhinos will be hoping he can rekindle the form of 2018, when he became the first Warriors player to top the NRL’s regular-season try chart with 22 in as many games.
That earned him the Dally M top tryscorer award, and he then made it 23 from 23 in the play-off clash with Penrith.
Fusitu’a made two appearances for New Zealand at the 2016 Four Nations tournament in England, including the final defeat by Australia at Anfield, before his so-far nine games for Tonga, which include the 20-18 World Cup semi-final defeat by England in Auckland four years ago.
Leeds coach Richard Agar said: “We are really excited to have signed David and I think he will be a great addition to our team.
“Undoubtedly, he is a world-class talent, you only need to look at his highlights reel and see the spectacular tries he can score to know he will soon become a crowd favourite.
“In the modern era, it is rare that a player of his ability becomes available for a Super League club and it is a great boost for us to have beaten off competition from a number of clubs to secure his signature.
“He is still only 27 and while we understand the reasons why he has not played as much as he would have liked last season, having spoken to him, he is keen to return to his best in a Rhinos shirt.”