Sheffield Eagles have continued their growing relationship with Salford Red Devils by signing Gareth Owen from the Super League club on a season-long loan deal.
He is the third of Brian Noble’s players to make a move to Owlerton Stadium for 2014, following Will Hope and Jon Ford.
Hooker Owen, 21, knows first-team opportunities will be limited at Salford, who captured ex-Hull FC and Huddersfield Giants rake Tommy Lee in the off-season and also have Stuart Howarth in their ranks.
But he will certainly bolster the Championship side as they look to win a third successive title and offers welcome competition to both James Davey and Andrew Henderson.
Sheffield head coach Mark Aston said: “I’m delighted we have managed to bring in Gareth for the season.
“He has a number of first-team appearances under his belt at Salford and will bring with him that Super League mentality.
“He began training with us last night (Wednesday) and wants to develop his game which I’m sure if he keeps the right attitude and determination he will do.
“We now have competition for places right across the squad.
“Nobody’s place is certain and everyone will have to train hard and play well to keep their place.”
Oldham-born Owen – who could debut at Swinton Lions on Sunday – joined Salford in 2010 and has made 36 appearances in the top flight, scoring six tries.
“I’m excited to be joining the Eagles,” he said.
“They had a great season last year, winning the Championship for a second successive year, and I hope I can help them defend the trophy again in 2014.”
Sheffield’s opening game against Rochdale Hornets was postponed last week due to a waterlogged pitch.
The Eagles could be set to lose another member of their pack, however, as second-row Peter Green has been charged with a Grade A punching offence in their friendly against York City Knights.
Opponent Jack Aldous must answer a Grade B punching charge from the same incident so could miss York’s opening Championship One game.
Ex-Bradford Bulls full-back Michael Platt is also facing the prospect of a trip to the disciplinary panel after being charged with punching in North Wales Crusaders’ game against Barrow Raiders on Sunday.
Hull FC forward Jay Pitts and Russ Spiers are charged with the Grade B offence of making a dangerous throw during Doncaster’s match at Workington.
All, apart from Aldous, have the option of submitting early guilty pleas before 11am on Tuesday or face the RFL Disciplinary Tribunal that evening.