Leeds Rhinos have strengthened their squad by signing Brisbane Broncos prop Mitch Garbutt, 26, on a two and half year contract.
Garbutt, a former Melbourne Storm frontrower will arrive in Leeds this Saturday and will begin training with his new team-mates on Monday ahead of the Rhinos’ top of the table clash with St Helens next Friday, 3rd July at Headingley Carnegie.
Garbutt moved during the off-season to Brisbane from Melbourne, for whom he made nine appearances in two seasons.
However, after making three appearances this season he had fallen down the pecking order at Brisbane, with younger props Joe Ofahengaue and Frank Molo gaining selection ahead of him as bench options.
The Broncos decided to grant him a release and he is looking to make the most of his move to Super League.
Garbutt got his break in the NRL when he was 22 after impressing for local Newcastle side Western Suburbs. Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy spotted him and brought him to the Storm. He had previously played junior rugby with Newcastle Knights in the Harold Matthews, SG Ball and under 20s competitions but thought his chance of breaking through may have gone when the Knights did not offer him a deal for 2010. However, his hard work with Wests saw him get another shot at the NRL with two years at Melbourne in 2013 and 2014 before his move to Brisbane this season.
Looking ahead to joining the Rhinos, Garbutt said, “I was very excited when the opportunity came up to sign with such a great club as Leeds. Gary Hetherington and Brian McDermott have been very good with me, they have kept in contact with me whilst all the paperwork has been sorted and now I can not wait to get over this weekend.
“The Rhinos are such a successful side with a mix of youth and experience and this is a great opportunity to kick on with my own career as part of that group. I have watched the team on television over here and the side are always competitive and, more often than not, come away with the win, which is an exciting thing I want to be part of.
“I think the style of the game in Super League will complement my natural game, and hopefully I can contribute to the team in any way I can. My wife Ruth and I are really excited about starting a new chapter in our lives along with our 12-week-old son Jordan. We can’t wait to land on Saturday and get settled into life in Leeds.
“I am hoping to hit the ground running as quickly as I can. Brian has been talking to me about how the team plays and the role he sees me doing within the group and that is something I have been able to focus on during the last few weeks whilst the deal has been arranged,” added Garbutt.
Rhinos coach Brian McDermott commented, “We are delighted to welcome Mitch to the club. I have spoken to a number of people in Australia who rate him and the job he can do for a team. He is someone I have been looking at for some time and I think his style of play will fit well within our team and the Super League competition. Obviously we are losing some size from our pack next season and had hoped to get Mitch in for 2016. However, to be able to bring him in now so he can get settled into life over here in Super League is an added bonus especially with big games all the way between now and the end of the season.”