Hull Kingston Rovers are closing in on the signing of Kiwi forward Albert Vete.
League Express understands the Robins are in advanced negotiations with the Melbourne Storm forward and are set to land a deal for the 27-year-old.
Vete, who has made two appearances for Tonga, played six times for Storm this year on their way to the NRL Premiership.
During seven seasons in the NRL, Vete has made 54 appearances, playing eight games in three seasons for Melbourne.
Tony Smith has made no secret of his desire to bulk up his pack and Vete will be brought in to help fill the void left by the likes of Mose Masoe, Mitch Garbutt and Nathaniel Peteru, who had all departed the Robins’ front-row department.
The club’s new CEO Paul Lakin said last week that recruitment from overseas was imminent.
“We’re looking to recruit from overseas and we’re looking to recruit within the next few weeks,” he said.
“We’re looking for players of the right age. We ideally want to bring in players that have played in the NRL but are maybe more squad players potentially with an upside because of their age.
“What we’re not looking to do – with all due respect – is bring in players for the last two years of their career. We feel that we’ve got the youth with the Academy and we want to keep that youthful enthusiasm, but with some experience from overseas.”
At 27 and a fringe player at Melbourne, Vete fits Lakin’s views on upcoming recruitment, and a deal is likely to be struck imminently.
Last week the Robins confirmed the departure of eleven players from the club at the end of the season, although the news about all of them has featured in League Express in recent weeks.
Australian prop Mitch Garbutt will join Toulouse, while Jamie Ellis, Matty Gee, Ryan Brierley and Nathaniel Peteru will play for Leigh.
Will Oakes and Adam Rooks will join Dewsbury and Bradford respectively after loan deals.
The club is also releasing Kyle Trout, Dan Murray, Weller Hauraki and Harvey Livett, who is likely to join Salford.
“Each and every one of these players has been extremely professional in our conversations about their contracts, and I would like to thank them for everything they have done for the club. We wish them all the best for the future,” said Hull KR coach Tony Smith.
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