The Penrith Panthers have announced the signing of forward Suaia Matagi on a one-year deal, with an option for a second year. Matagi most recently starred in the Wyong Roos' surge to the VB NSW Cup Grand Final.
The arrival of the 27-year-old prop will bolster the Panthers' front-row stocks and create intense competition within the Panthers pack in 2016.
“We are very pleased to sign Sui to our club and he will provide tremendous impact and leadership to our young forwards,” Panthers Executive General Manager Rugby League Phil Gould said.
“Off the field Sui has proven himself to be an inspiration with his life story and his preparedness to share his experiences with the younger generation.
“As well as playing football, Sui is keen to involve himself in a number of the club’s community projects.”
Matagi’s breakthrough year came in 2013 as he made his NRL debut for New Zealand Warriors, earned selection in the NSW Cup Team of the Year and represented Samoa at the Rugby League World Cup.
His story is one of rugby league's best - a self-confessed former drug user and alcoholic who was jailed for assault in his early 20s and, while imprisoned, vowed to turn his life around and make the grade in rugby league despite never having played the game.
He went on to play 36 games for the Warriors before a mid-season transfer saw him join Sydney Roosters in May this year.
The Panthers have also announced that Steve Georgallis will coach their VB NSW Cup side, following veteran coach Garth Brennan's promotion to a new position as NRL assistant coach.
For all the latest off-season signing and player-movement news, keep visiting www.nswrl.com.au