Hull Kingston Rovers assistant Willie Poching insists Ryan Bailey will be “great” for the East Yorkshire club after they completed a shock move for the Leeds Rhinos veteran yesterday.
The ex-Great Britain prop, renowned as one of the game’s most aggressive and controversial players, brought a surprise end to his decorated career with his home-town club where he won six Grand Finals, three World Club Challenge titles and, in August, a Challenge Cup.
Bailey, 30, had been in and out of the Leeds side this season but still had a year remaining on his Headingley deal and – having turned down a chance to move to the NRL last term – always talked about finishing his career as a one-club man.
However, he has now joined Hull KR on a two-year deal, linking once more with Poching, who was a Rhinos team-mate for five seasons before moving into the coaching ranks at Leeds.
Bailey scored 20 tries in 313 games for the Blue and Amber but will strengthen their Super League rivals, who have recently been shorn of Justin Poore, the Australian prop signed from Wakefield Trinity Wildcats who has had to retire due to a serious knee injury.
Poching said: “Ryan is a fantastic signing and an important one for the club.
“He gives the impression he’s a player who plays to the boundaries of the rules at times but he’s aggressive and that’s what you need in a front-row sometimes.
“However, he’s a totally different person off the field. People who have been watching Super League for a little while may find that hard to believe, but he’s very quiet, knuckles down, works hard and goes about his business.
“Ryan’s very approachable and he’ll do anything for anybody. He’ll be great for us to have in the squad and for the young forwards especially.”
Bailey, who could debut against Rhinos on the opening day of next season, added: “It was a difficult decision to leave Leeds; I was born in the city and I’ve won some great finals with the club but now I want to bring some of that experience to Rovers.
“We’ve got some really ambitious players who want to win things here at Hull KR and, hopefully, I can add to that and bring a bit of grunt up front.”