Castleford Tigers find solution to full-back conundrum as Gareth O'Brien signs from Toronto Wolfpack
The 28-year-old joins from Toronto Wolfpack, who withdrew from Super League prior to the competition's resumption this month.
He has been with the Canadian club since 2018 and is most comfortable at full-back but can also provide some versatility at half-back.
The Tigers lost their first-choice number one during the sport's suspension when Jordan Rankin returned home to Australia for family reasons.
Head coach Daryl Powell feels O'Brien is an important acquisition for Castleford and a player who the Tigers have previously considered signing.
“Gareth is a high-quality player who will fit in very neatly into the way that we attack, and he’ll really strengthen us I think for the remainder of this season," said Powell.
“He’s a player that we have looked at before and given what has happened with Toronto and our position with Jordan Rankin going home, I thought it was important to get an experienced full-back on board and strengthen us in that position.”
O'Brien played two loan games for Castleford during a five-year spell at Warrington Wolves before he joined Salford Red Devils ahead of the 2016 campaign.
He kicked the winning drop-goal in a dramatic Million Pound Game with Hull KR in 2016, relegating the Robins to the Championship.
O'Brien joined Toronto in 2018 and last year was named the Betfred Championship Player of the Year, after playing in 27 of Toronto’s 28 fixtures, scoring 22 tries and registering a quarter of the Wolfpack’s entire points throughout the season.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity, with Toronto pulling out of the league it gives me a chance to get back playing rugby and enjoying what I do. I’m excited to get started," said O'Brien.
“I hope to bring a big work ethic, I’ve got a good set of running legs in me and I am looking to slot in nicely into the team.
“I can’t wait to work with Daryl, I had a quick chat with him this morning and he has been very welcoming and I’m excited to work with him over the course of the next few months and I cannot wait to get going.”
The Tigers director of rugby Jon Wells admits that Rankin's departure was unplanned and is glad to get O'Brien on board for the remainder of the campaign.
He added: “I would like to welcome Gareth to the Tigers – his addition will be a real asset for us going forward.
"Jordan Rankin’s departure during the suspension of Super League was unforeseen and far from ideal, so I am delighted now that we can add a player with the skill-set and experience that Gareth has to our squad.”
Meanwhile, Dan Fleming has joined the club on a one-month trial.