LEIGH have pulled off one of the biggest signings in their history by landing NRL legend Fuifui Moimoi.
After weeks of speculation linking the Kingstone Press Championship Champions with a move for the Parramatta Eels forward, Leigh finally confirmed the signing on Saturday night.
Moimoi will link-up with the Centurions in January on a one-year contract up until November 2015 with the club having the option of a second year as Paul Rowley’s side prepare for the start of the Kingstone Press Championship campaign in mid February.
Tongan born Moimoi, 35, will experience English club rugby for the first time having ended a successful 11 year stint in the NRL with Parramatta.
He became one of the NRL’s most recognisable and respected players. He made 201 club appearances and scored one of his 22 tries in the club’s 2009 Grand Final defeat at the hands of Melbourne Storm.
Moimoi has represented New Zealand and Tonga - playing at the Sports Village during the 2013 World Cup against the Cook Islands.
Leigh coach Paul Rowley said: “The signing of Fui is a strong indication of Leigh Centurions’ ability to attract world-class talent in the face of fierce competition from Super League clubs. It is a positive sign that the club has grown in reputation both on and off the field and that word of mouth has reached foreign shores at the most elite level.
“Fui is a world-class player who will not only bring profile to our club off the field but a huge presence and class on the field. I am looking forward to coaching Fui and helping him to enjoy and flourish in his time within our Centurions family.”
Leigh Head of Rugby Derek Beaumont said: “I was absolutely delighted when I finally got this one over the line. I would firstly like to thank Hayden Knowles of CE Sports and Darren Kane of Colin W Love the Australian solicitor who finally oversaw the conclusion of the contract. I would also like to thank former Australian test star Rod Reddy for his assistance with this.
“Fuifui Moimoi is a class player, we all know that and obviously there was competition from Super League clubs. With the assistance of those mentioned we were able to convince Fui that his best option was to come and be part of the family at Leigh Centurions, where he can be a part of history in achieving something special.
“He will be a revelation in our division and will grab some big headlines. The sheer story attracts bigger headlines in itself and our fans will embrace him, making him a local cult hero. He has bought into that and feels challenged by it. It is a great way for him to settle into the English game, where he can gauge where it’s at from a unique family surrounding.
“He is already familiar with the facilities we have which had a big influence on his decision to join us and is aware of the local Tongans we have in town in Tau Liku and Lee Hansen. We are also looking forward to welcoming Fui’s son into our family and making him feel valued and happy during his time over here.
“Inevitably it was almost impossible to keep a lid on something like this but the speculation leading up to it was exactly that and I would like to thank those that were in the loop for remaining silent on it. The speculation was good as it has kept the club in the media spotlight during the off season.
“I guess I also need to apologise to those I had to throw off the scent. It was a difficult one for me to deal with but we had to abide by the terms we had agreed. I am really excited about seeing Fui play for us, he has huge experience to add to our big pack and I am sure in itself that will be invaluable to the club. I can hear the chants of his name coming from the North Stand now, with Fui wigs everywhere and the very thought of that sends a shiver down my spine.”
Moimoi said: “There was a lot in interest in me going to England including Super League but in the end my team advised me that Leigh was my best option and I’m very happy to be going to Leigh.
“I was there at the World Cup and I trained and played at the Leigh Stadium. I met a few people at Leigh and obviously I met the owner who is a really nice guy. The people there are really good and friendly and I can’t wait to meet them and to be part of Leigh Rugby League Club. It’s an honour for me to play my footy there next year.”
Fuifui added: “I just want to play footy; train hard and play hard. I’m looking forward - I can’t wait to meet my new teammates and my new coach and work with them.
“I’ll miss the fans and my teammates (at Parramatta) but I’m looking forward to playing in England. The fans are crazy there, they love their footy and I can’t wait to get there and see all the fans in the UK.”