Harder to sign NRL’s top rookies like Fonua due to new laws - admits Hull FC chief

Hull FC's Mahe Fonua in action.
Hull FC's Mahe Fonua in action.
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LEE RADFORD believes Super League will struggle to attract the NRL’s best raw talent in the wake of new government rules.

The Hull FC head coach was speaking after Sydney outfit Wests Tigers confirmed they had signed Black and Whites winger Mahe Fonua on a two-year deal from 2018.

Fonua initially joined the East Yorkshire club from Melbourne Storm ahead of last season having only played 50 games in the previous four years for the Australian side.

However, he enjoyed a brilliant debut campaign, earning a place in the Super League Dream Team and also scoring in the Challenge Cup final as Hull won at Wembley for the first time in their history.

Fonua, 24, has continued that form this time around and was the top metre-maker in the competition before being sidelined by injury.

Hull, though, agreed to an early release from his three-year deal last month to help secure a NRL return due to family reasons.

He clearly heads back a far more accomplished player and, having seen Wests confirm his capture, Radford admitted: “They have got a good one. He’s going to be missed massively here.

“What he brings to the team is huge and I’m looking forward to seeing him run out at Salford on Friday having missed the last few games. It’s great to have him back. But gone are the days now of bringing a Mahe in (to Super League).

“Now, with the changes in the rules, it means they need to have played 50 per cent of the NRL games over the last two seasons before they can sign here. No one really knew who Mahe was when he came through the door.

“But he’s been an asset to Super League as have the likes of Fetuli Talanoa and Jordan Rankin who were players in the same boat but of the same sort of calibre. Unfortunately you’re not going to get them through the door now.

“I say unfortunately. It does mean you have to bring your own through more I suppose and that puts more emphasis on that but we will miss Mahe.”