Huddersfield Giants have won the race to sign Leigh Centurions’ prolific scrum-half Ryan Brierley on a four-and-half year deal.
Brierley, 24, is arguably the hottest talent outside of Super League and had drawn interest from the likes of Leeds Rhinos and Salford Red Devils following his scintillating form for the Championship club.
He has been unsettled, though, since Leigh head coach Paul Rowley quit on the eve of the season and has not played for them since the 32-32 draw against Bradford Bulls last month having subsequently put in a transfer request.
Brierley’s contract ran until the end of 2016 but Huddersfield – who saw former England scrum-half Luke Robinson forced into retirement earlier this season – have now made their successful move for the pacey player who should aid their stuttering start to the campaign.
Brierley joined Leigh from Castleford Tigers in 2o12, won the Championship Young Player of the Year the following season and again in 2014 when, remarkably, he scored 43 tries.
He set a club record by becoming the first player to be Leigh’s top try-scorer in four successive seasons and finished his career there with 133 in just 125 games.
Brierley said: “To be honest, the last few weeks have probably been the toughest time of my career. It has not been a nice time, just not knowing where you are going to be for the rest of the season is daunting, especially because I have a young family now. But Huddersfield have been great and I feel like it is the right step in my career.
“There is a world-class playing roster here and a number of internationals and the chance to, first, train alongside these guys is special.
“I know there is no guarantee I am going to play. I have just got to work hard and earn a spot in the right way and that is by training hard and getting the respect of my peers and the management team.
“But to play alongside great players like Danny Brough and Jamie Ellis is going to be a great experience for me.”
Giants’ head coach Paul Anderson commented on his new signing: “Ryan has great pace, which will bring an extra dimension to our squad.
“He is a natural try-scorer, which is a great asset to have, and his challenge immediately will be to get up to the week-in, week-out fitness and intensity required at Super League level.
“He fits the Giants’ policy of buying young hungry English players and our task as coaches here is fit him into our systems so we can best use his talents.”