HULL FC coach Peter Gentle believes Exiles prop Mickey Paea is the ideal replacement for retiring Australian veteran Mark O’Meley.
The club confirmed yesterday what Hull KR chairman Neil Hudgell had already announced; that the highly-coveted Tongan forward is moving west across the River Hull for 2014.
Paea, 27, has signed a two-year deal with Hull FC who have seen off competition from NRL and Super League clubs to snare the former Junior Kangaroos captain.
He is the fourth Rovers player to make the controversial switch to their rivals in the last 12 months alone following Shannon McDonnell, Ben Galea and Liam Watts.
“It’s a good piece of business for us as we’ve secured the services of one of the competition’s best players, as was proven in the Exiles game where he was arguably their best forward,” said Gentle.
“He is strong and powerful and had a number of clubs chasing him, so for him to see his future with Hull FC is very positive for us.
“He is the sort of player we need in our side, particularly with Mark O’Meley retiring at the end of the season.
“Mark has been a hard hitting, no-nonsense forward throughout his entire career and brings a lot to our team, so to be able to recruit a player of Mickey’s calibre to replace that is very pleasing for us.”
Paea was the fifth highest metre maker in Super League last term after joining from Canterbury Bulldogs and he has improved further this time around.
“I have enjoyed my time in England and I’m settled in Hull so that made a tough decision a little easier,” he said.
“But it has been difficult with a number of options on the table.
“I have been grateful for the opportunity at Hull KR, but I felt after two years with the club I needed a fresh start and after weighing up my options Hull FC was the best fit for me and my wife.
“I have a lot of respect for Hull KR and their supporters and I will give my all to the club for the remainder of the year and look forward to joining up with Hull FC in the close season.”
Meanwhile, Hull are celebrating Armed Forces Weekend with their specially-themed match against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats at the KC Stadium on Monday.