Leigh Centurions have confirmed the signing of St Helens forward Atelea Vea on a two-year contract as they continue to strengthen for Super League 2017.
The Tongan international has spent the past two seasons with the Saints and, after an injury-hit 2015 campaign has been a regular in the Saints pack in 2016, scoring seven tries in 27 games.
Leigh owner Derek Beaumont said: “I have always admired ‘Tils’ as a player. He plays it tough and direct and just has that stereotypical look of a powerhouse player.
“Coming from Saints he is used to being at the top end of the Super League and being part of a good culture amongst top players and that will add to what we are trying to build. I have no doubt that the fans will take to him when he dons a Leigh Centurions shirt for the first time.”
Leigh coach Neil Jukes said: “Atelea has been playing really well for St Helens on the edge and in the middle and has shown his versatility. He has been playing Super League week in, week out to a high level of performance.
“After meeting with him it was evident that Atelea was excited to be part of a club that was growing and what he wanted out of it and what we wanted was the perfect fit.
“As we go into Super League we aim to improve our culture on and off the field and Atelea will play a big part in that. What particularly impressed me was that when we met we weren’t then guaranteed our place in Super League but Atelea was ready to get his hands dirty and get us into Super League if needed. He really bought into the club straight away.”
Saints chief executive Mike Rush said: “We’d like to wish Tils all the best at Leigh Centurions.
“He has proved a popular member of the squad here and we’d like to thank him for his efforts in the red vee. Like any former player, he will always be welcome back at the club.”