Rowley ecstatic to bring in “unbelievable” Tonga

Paul Rowley shared his delight after his worldwide search for a centre culminated in the arrival Willie Tonga to Leigh.

The former Australia and Queensland star has put pen-to-paper on a deal with the Centurions, further reasserting the aspirations of Rowley’s side in 2016.

And the Leigh head coach revealed exclusively to that he was thrilled with his new addition.

Tonga Catalans
Tonga is the latest big name to sign for Leigh

“His pedigree is just unbelievable,” said Rowley.

“He’s played for Australia and Queensland. He’s a great signing and we’ve made a point of saying we want to become a more professional club and he is another who has played in superb environments.

“We’ve been very patient. We’ve had a lot of names thrown at us, but sometimes it just feels right and Willie did. We’ve searched every corner of the globe and we feel like we’ve come up with a great addition.

“He’s another great person to have on board. We’re evolving as a club and as a team. There’s a lot of new players so it will take a bit of time to get the best out of the squad, but the potential we have now is just frightening.”

Tonga joins Leigh following a frustrating year at Catalans. The 32-year-old endured a difficult year with injuries and being played out of position, and Rowley is now keen on ensuring he showcases his talents at LSV.

“Players like Willie, who has achieved everything in the NRL, want to be happy. It’s a bit like Rangi in the sense that he wants to have a smile on his face and enjoy his Rugby League, that’s how you get the best out of him.

“A lot of players come to our club because of word of mouth through our players of past and present, and that’s a massive compliment to the club and us as staff.

“I must thank Catalans, particularly Laurent Frayssinous and the CEO Christophe Jouffret as they’ve been really accommodating with this move and helped make this happen.”

Leigh were already regarded as overwhelming favourites to win the Championship before the arrival of Tonga. But despite further reinforcing his squad, Rowley insists the club will stay grounded.

“We’ll never get ahead of ourselves,” he said.

“Sport is sport and you have no right to win games, but we do feel we have the tools to win matches. We had them last year, but in our opinion we’re stronger this year.”