Perfect Christmas present for fans as Leeds Rhinos sign NRL star Zane Tetevano

LEEDS RHINOS fans today received the Christmas present they wanted when the club announced the signing of NRL front-rower Zane Tetevano on a three-year deal.

The 30-year-old has played at Test level for Cook Islands and New Zealand and featured in two of the last three NRL Grand Finals.

He was a substitute when Penrith Panthers lost to Melbourne Storm this year and came off the bench in Sydney Roosters’ 2018 win over the same opponents.

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Director of rugby Kevin Sinfield insisted once Tetevano became available, he was Rhinos’ “number one priority” to strengthen their squad for 2021.

Leeds Rhinos new signing Zane Tetevano in action for New Zealand. against Great Britain. Picture: Martin Hunter/ www.photosport.nz/SWpix.com

“We are delighted to get the deal done,” Sinfield said after Leeds fought off competition from rival Betfred Super League clubs, believed to include Catalans Dragons.

“I would like to thank Penrith Panthers for their cooperation to complete the move.

“We have got an exciting crop of young players coming through at the Rhinos and to add a current international with a proven track record of winning will give our group a tremendous lift.

“We look forward to seeing Zane in blue and amber in 2021.”

Zane Tetevano in training for New Zealand, Picture: John Davidson/www.photosport.nz/SWpix.com

Coach Richard Agar feels the 1.89metre (6ft2ins), 111kg (17st4lb) forward will add power and experience to Rhinos’ pack.

He said: “Zane has played in tremendous club sides over the last four seasons winning minor Premierships and Grand Finals and he is a current starting international.

“It has been a deal that has taken a number of weeks and I would like to thank Penrith Panthers for the professional manner they have dealt with the whole process.

“Our patience has been rewarded and Zane is a player who will add a massive all round contribution to our team.”

Zane Tetevano drinks from the Betfred World Club Challenge trophy in 2019 while representing Sydney Roosters after the victory against Wigan. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

Tetevano has 121 NRL appearances to his name, including 19 this year, when he averaged 103 running metres per match and made 317 tackles.

He joined Penrith ahead of the 2020 campaign on a two-year deal from Roosters, where he spent three seasons, but has been released from the final year of his contract to join Rhinos.

He began his NRL career with Newcastle Knights in 2011, playing alongside former Rhinos forward Adam Cuthbertson during four seasons there.

Tetevano earned five caps for Cook Islands and played three times for New Zealand, including both Tests against Great Britain last year.

“My personal motto is that I like to be challenged and this move is the next challenge for me,” Tetevano said.

“I have had my time in the NRL and had some amazing opportunities and been part of some incredible teams.

“I am excited to be coming to Leeds. I have been doing my research on the history of the club so I have an emotional connection with the highs and lows of being a Rhino.”

He added: “I played some of the big guys from Super League with New Zealand against Great Britain and some of those guys are absolute beasts.

“I am keen to test myself against them on a week to week basis. The Great Britain players are big men who like the physical side of the game and that is the style of play I like too so I am looking forward to the challenge.”

Of his exit from Penrith, he said: “I would like to say a massive thank you to the Panthers and all their fans.

“Ivan Cleary has been a great coach for me over the last year and I have learned a lot.

“They have a great squad and I think they will be a top two team for the next five or ten years.

“I want to give my gratitude and appreciation to the whole Panthers organisation for the opportunity they have given me to show my skill set and the chance to continue to play the game I love.”

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