Wildcats in double raid as Tigers let Mathers join rivals

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Wakefield Trinity Wildcats have completed a double signing capturing Papua New Guinea international Paul Aiton and Castleford Tigers star Richard Mathers.

Cronulla Sharks hooker Aiton, 26, joins on a two-year deal subject to a successful visa application while full-back Mathers, 28, arrives on a season-long loan from their arch rivals.

Wakefield head to Wales this morning on a three-day training camp with new head coach Richard Agar having now recruited an astonishing 18 players for 2012.

“Paul is a tough and committed player with a real strength of character who plays the game very quick and direct,” he said.

“He’s a proven performer in the NRL and on the international stage with PNG where he has shown tremendous leadership qualities as their captain.”

Mathers, meanwhile, is just 12 months into a three-year deal at Wheldon Road and was a key player after signing from Warrington Wolves where he had won consecutive Challenge Cup finals.

However, new Castleford coach Ian Millward has made it clear he does not feature in his plans – winger Richard Owen is set to take their full-back role – leaving Agar delighted to acquire such an accomplished performer.

“Richard’s highly respected by his peers and he’s been a winner throughout his career,” he said, with their arch-rivals forfeiting the right to recall him next season and also allowing Mathers to face his parent club.

Champions Leeds Rhinos, meanwhile, could make a move for Sale Sharks centre Iain Thornley.

The former Wigan Warriors youngster, 20, is already on a season-long loan at Championship club Leeds Carnegie, impressing with four tries in 12 games so far.

Ex-England Academy international Thornley left Wigan for Sale on a three-year deal only last summer hoping to follow in the footsteps of another who made such a move – Jason Robinson – but is yet to establish himself, playing just seven Premiership matches before being loaned to Headingley.

The Yorkshire Post understands Rhinos are interested in his services as they look to bolster their three-quarter line for 2012.

Veteran Keith Senior – offered a pay-as-you-play deal at Leeds next term – is unlikely to return and, as he continues his recovery from knee surgery, is considering a similar offer from Hull KR.

Ex-Robins star Paul Cooke, 30, is hoping to get his own chance to prove his worth.

He has been out of the game for more than a year after being released by Wakefield and taking time to deal with personal issues.

However, Cooke has told Championship One club Doncaster he will play for match payments if they employ him full-time in a development role.

Coach Tony Miller has urged fans to help fund what would be a “massive” signing.