Hull Kingston Rovers’ acting-captain Tyrone McCarthy will leave at the end of the season to join Australian club St George Illawarra.
The loose forward, 27, has signed a two-year contract with the Sydney-based outfit having exercised a clause in his Rovers deal that allowed him to accept an offer from an NRL side.
Ireland international McCarthy spent last season with Northern Pride in the Queensland Cup but now gets the opportunity to play first-grade football over there.
He has been excellent for Hull KR, scoring five tries in 28 games and leading them out in the Challenge Cup final against Leeds Rhinos last week having taken over the captain’s armband since Terry Campese was injured in June.
“It’s been a tough decision to make as I’ve really enjoyed playing for the club this season,” said McCarthy, who had signed a two-year deal at Craven Park.
“There’s a great group of players here at the moment who make it enjoyable to come to training every day and it’s been a huge honour to lead them.
“Captaining such a proud and historic club like Hull KR in the Challenge Cup Final was one of the highlights of my career so far despite the result and I would have been very happy to stay at the club.
“It’s always been one of my ambitions to play in the NRL though and joining St George for next season was an opportunity that in the end I couldn’t afford to turn down.
“I loved my time in Australia last season and I’m looking forward to challenging myself against some of the best players in the world.
“However, I’ve got a job to do here first and I’ll be doing my very best to finish the year strongly with Hull KR.
“We’ve put ourselves in a good position in the Super 8s and we need to kick on and end the season on a high.
“That’s the least we owe to the fans who have been great with me ever since I came to the club.
“I’d heard good things before I arrived but they’ve surpassed all expectations and I can’t thank them enough for everything they have done for me and the boys.”
Head coach Chris Chester said: “It’s disappointing to lose Tyrone for next season as he’s impressed everybody on and off the field this year.
“He’s been a consistent performer and has taken on a leadership role on the field since Terry’s injury, but we understand his ambition to test himself in the NRL and he will leave with our best wishes at the end of the season.
“We’ve already begun to look at a replacement for Tyrone in our squad for 2016 and hope to make an announcement on this in the near future.”