Hull Kingston Rovers have snapped up Leeds Rhinos forward Ryan Bailey on a two-year contract as the club continues to bolster its squad for the 2015 season.
A former England and Great Britain international, the prop is one of the most decorated players in Super League having won six Grand Finals, three World Club Challenge titles and one Challenge Cup with the Rhinos.
Offering a wealth of experience to a young squad next season, Bailey will also bring added aggression and physicality to the Rovers pack, and he admitted he’s ready for a new challenge in 2015.
“I’ve achieved a lot of things at Leeds over a 14-year period but I’m ready for a new challenge at Hull KR,” said the 30-year-old, speaking to the club’s official website.
“It was a difficult decision to leave Leeds, I was born in the city and I’ve won some great finals with the club but now I want to bring some of that experience to Rovers. It’s going to be a big challenge but I’m looking forward to it and I’ll be meeting it head on.
“The fans are really passionate and hopefully we can breed a winning culture and start getting to finals. We’ve got some really ambitious players who want to win things here at Hull KR and hopefully I can add to that and bring a bit of grunt up front.
“We’ve got a big game at the start of the season against Leeds and that will be a perfect way to hopefully make my debut. I know from experience that the ground is a daunting place to go to, it’s tough for opposition teams and we’ve got to make the most of that.
“I know the ins and outs of all the players at Leeds so hopefully I can pass on a few things to Chezzy and we can get a win first game of the season to get us up and running.”
Making his Super League debut for Leeds at the age of 18 in 2002, Bailey has gone on to rack up more than 300 appearances for his hometown club and was granted a testimonial last season for his service to the Headingley side.
Taking Hull KR’s tally of new signings to ten for next year, he will link up with his new teammates for training shortly and despite earning a reputation as a controversial figure within the sport, new assistant coach Willie Poching says he will be a welcome addition to the squad.
“Ryan is a fantastic signing and an important one for the club,” said Poching, who played alongside Bailey for five seasons at Leeds before going on to coach the forward at the Rhinos.
“With Justin Poore retiring, we lost a lot of experience there and a bit of grunt up front and that’s what Ryan brings to the table. He has a wealth of experience at Super League level and also in big games.
“He’s a great athlete, a good trainer and a wonderful player. He gives the impression that he’s a player who plays to the boundaries of the rules at times but he’s aggressive and that’s what you need in a front rower sometimes.
“However, he’s a totally different person off the field to what you see on it. People who have been watching Super League for a little while may find that hard to believe, but he’s very quiet, he knuckles down, he works hard and he goes about his business.
“That’s Ryan Bailey, he’s very approachable, he’ll do anything for anybody but that’s not the impression he gives on the field. He’ll be great for us to have in the squad and for the young forwards especially.”