Leigh snap up NRL pair

Leigh Centurions have landed NRL duo Sam Stone and Jai Whitbread from Gold Coast Titans on contracts through to the end of next season.

Meanwhile, former Wigan, Hull KR and England second rower Joel Tomkins will be at the Centurions next season after leaving Catalans Dragons.

And in another sign that the basement side are building for another campaign in Super League amid suggestions relegation is to be suspended for a second successive year, halfback Joe Mellor has agreed a contract extension to cover 2022.

Meanwhile, Batley centre Jack Logan has switched to Leigh until the end of the current campaign.

Backrower Stone, the son of former Huddersfield coach Rick, and prop Whitbread are both 23, and join with immediate effect, although quarantine regulations must be followed.

Malta international Stone has played 39 NRL games, with five tries, for Newcastle Knights and Gold Coast, but has featured only four times this year.

Whitbread has made 30 appearances for the Titans, two of them this year.

Stone said he had taken advice from his father, who coached Huddersfield from July 2016 to March 2018, and explained: “He told me to go for it.

“I’ve always wanted to play in England, and I think the style will be great for me. The game in the NRL is very conservative, but in England, it’s much more open and as a player you have the opportunity to express yourself.”

Whitbread, who played for Brisbane Broncos at Under-20 level before joining Gold Coast, said: “I’m looking forward to adapting my game and getting used to Super League – it’s a tough competition.”

Former Wigan, Widnes and Toronto player Mellor, 30, joined ahead of this season.

“If the whole squad plays well together we have the potential to end this season with some wins,” he said.

“It’s a great club with fantastic facilities and the potential is immense.”

Tomkins, 34, who is a dual-code international, has agreed a one-year deal and interim coach Kurt Haggerty explained: “The signing of Joel is a statement of intent.

“He’s a proven winner and is still playing at the highest level in Super League. Joel brings experience, a winning mentality and leadership qualities.”

Logan, 25, signed for Batley ahead of this season, but recently rejoined his first club Hull on loan amid an injury crisis at the Black and Whites.

He has also played for Doncaster and had a loan spell at Toronto in 2019, when he worked with Haggerty, who said: “He’s athletic and has a good skill set. Jack can play any position in the outside backs and adds value to our playing roster.”

Leigh’s loan props Jack Ashworth (Huddersfield), who was sent off, and Rob Butler (Warrington) were both handed two-match bans for fighting following the fiery clash at Wigan, who won 50-6.

They missed the visit of Hull KR – ahead of which Leigh re-signed St Helens hooker Josh Eaves and backrow Matty Foster on loan – and are also ruled out of Friday’s home meeting with Leeds.

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