ENGLAND star Sam Tomkins helped pave the way for Kiwi World Cup winner Sam Rapira to join Huddersfield Giants in 2016.
The New Zealand Warriors full-back, who returns to Wigan Warriors himself next year, is a team-mate of Rapira, the distinguished prop who has had his pick of Super League clubs since announcing he would leave the NRL at the end of the season.
Huddersfield today confirmed the 28-year-old would be joining them on a deal that runs until the end of 2017, a major coup for Paul Anderson’s side given Leeds Rhinos were among the clubs in the hunt for his services.
“After 10 years at the Warriors, I can’t wait for the new challenge of playing English Super League,” said Rapira, who won the World Cup with New Zealand in 2008 and has played 13 Tests.
“I decided to sign with the Giants as I’ve heard positive things about the club and they have shown a lot of enthusiasm in getting me over there.
“I’m really grateful for this opportunity and I look forward to working with Paul Anderson and the boys.
“The thought of moving to the other side of the world with our two daughters is a bit daunting.
“But our friends and family have been supportive throughout this process and we’re excited to experience a new country and culture.
“We’ve had lots of advice from Sam Tomkins and his partner Charlotte and it’s nice to know that we’ll have a few English friends over there in addition to our Kiwi friends.”
Rapira, who debuted for the Warriors in 2006, is expected to link up with the Giants for pre- season in mid-November.
Anderson, who has allowed prop Anthony Mullally to join Leeds next season, said: “He has played at the very highest level throughout his career and to choose us to spend time with in the UK is great testament to what we have built up over the years here. It’s a clear message of where we want the club to be. Sam is a winner and a tough competitor who will enjoy the conditions here after he has finished his outstanding NRL career.
“He is an out-and-out prop who had options here and in Australia so we are delighted he has joined our club in the face of a lot of other possibilities.”