former England forward Gareth Hock is to kick-start his career with Leigh in the Kingstone Press Championship.
The 31-year-old signed a contract with the Centurions to the end of 2016 – with an option in the club’s favour for a third season – three days after being released by Super League side Salford Red Devils following heart-to-heart talks with owner Marwan Koukash.
Hock, who had almost three years left on his deal with the Red Devils, says he had offers to stay in Super League from at least two clubs, but wants to help the Centurions gain promotion from the Championship.
“It’s a family-run club, with a lot of passion,” Hock told a press conference at Leigh Sports Village. “It’s a rugby town like Wigan. I can’t wait to get started.”
The former Wigan favourite is the Centurions’ second high-profile recruit following their capture of former New Zealand prop Fuifui Moimoi. He will, however, have to wait until Easter Monday to make his Centurions debut as he starts a six-match ban for deliberate use of his knees during Salford’s 52-6 home defeat by St Helens in their last match a fortnight ago.
That was the latest in a series of suspensions that forced Hock to miss three years of rugby throughout his career.
He was given a two-year ban in 2009 after testing positive for cocaine and missed the last seven matches of last season after being found guilty of making deliberate contact with a referee.
Despite his previous record, Leigh coach Paul Rowley insists the signing is not a gamble.
“I’m not concerned,” he said. “He’s a winner and we want winners at the club.”
Hock said: “I play the game with aggression and passion and sometimes things don’t go my way, but I’m working on it very hard, on my behaviour.”