HULL FC have ventured to the NRL once more to secure another high-profile signing for 2020 - Parramatta Eels and Tonga back-row Manu Ma’u.
The former Kiwi international is regarded as one of the toughest forwards in the southern hemisphere and will bring his physicality to Super League next term.
Hull have already confirmed the re-signing of winger Mahe Fonua from Wests Tigers while St Helens winger Adam Swift and Salford Red Devils back-row Josh Jones have also been recruited.
Auckland-born Ma’u, 30, has experience of playing in the UK having featured in all five of New Zealand’s Four Nations games in 2016 before switching allegiance to Tonga.
He starred for them in the 2017 World Cup when - with Hull second-row Sika Manu as captain - they made their famous surge to the semi-finals and almost overcame England in a epic battle.
With Hull’s veteran Australian back-row Mark Minichiello likely to retire at the end of the season, Ma’u will bring crucial experience to the Black and Whites and arrives on a two-year deal.
“I’ve spoken to a few players I know well about the club,” he said,
“I keep up with Mahe Fonua from my time playing for Tonga, as well as Sika Manu and Bureta Faraimo who I know too, and they couldn’t speak highly enough about Hull FC.
“That made me only more eager to join. I’m hugely excited for the challenge. “I’ve read so much about Super League and about Hull FC itself, particularly about the passionate fans over there, so I can’t wait to make the move.
“I’m at a stage now where I want to challenge myself overseas and move out of my comfort zone. Hull have given me that chance.”
Nicknamed the ‘Tongan Terminator’, Ma’u is certainly an abrasive forward and he is sure to make an impact in Super League with the East Yorkshire club beating off rivals here and other NRL interest to get his signature.
“It’s taken a couple of months to get over the line,” he said.
“My manager kept telling there was interest from the club so it took me a bit of time to make the decision, speaking to my wife and family to think about what was best for me.
“Having a young family with a wife and three kids, it was important they were happy with the decision, and they were. We’re all thrilled.”
Ma’u found himself in trouble with the authorities earlier in his life but transformed his ways after being given a chance by Parramatta and eventually made his NRL debut in 2014.
He has gone on to make more than 100 first-grade appearances and Hull coach Lee Radford is looking forward to working with him.
“I’m really pleased to get such a quality signing in Manu over the line,” he said.
“To get that level of player in our competition, at the peak of his career is a real coup for the club.
“I’ve only heard good things about him on and off the field. I’m sure his no-nonsense style of play will make him a firm fans-favourite when he arrives.
“Manu has a real toughness in his game which I really admire.”
Hull chief executive James Clark added: “This is not just a statement signing for Hull FC, but also for Super League and it highlights the real depth of overseas and domestic talent we will have in our competition next season.
“Manu and (wife) Alisi have been a pleasure to deal with throughout this lengthy process and their genuine excitement to join our club is infectious.
“I’d like to thank (agenet) Tyran Smith for his extremely professional approach in helping us make this move a reality. We are looking forward to Manu joining us next season."