The Parramatta Eels have today added 5 new players to their 2015 roster, including former Knights prop Danny Wicks who is returning to the NRL after a stint in prison over drug-related offences.
The club also signed Sea Eagles veteran Anthony Watmough, utility Brad Takairangi, former Raider Reece Robinson and Richie Fa’aoso who is coming out of retirement after getting the all-clear from doctors following a serious neck injury.
With Jarryd Hayne’s shock departure to the NFL, the Eels had plenty of money to spend, and moved quickly to add some quality to their 2015 team.
Watmough, 31, has signed on for 4 years which will likely see him to the end his career, while Robinson, 27, Takairangi, 25, Wicks, 28, and Fa’aoso, 30, have all inked one-year deals.
Eels coach Brad Arthur was full of praise for Watmough who made his debut in 2002 for the now-defunct Northern Eagles, and spent the next 12 seasons at the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, playing 278 games. He has also played 14 games for NSW and 16 Tests for Australia.
“Anthony is a world-class, premiership-winning player who will further bolster our forward pack for the next few seasons,” Arthur told the Eels’ website.
“He’s played almost 300 NRL games, and along with that experience he’ll bring outstanding leadership qualities that will help grow our young talent.”
Takairangi arrives to the club after stints at the Sydney Roosters (2009-2012) and Gold Coast Titans (2013-2014) and has played 68 games to date.
Robinson made his debut for the Brisbane Broncos in 2008, playing 8 games during the season before heading to the Canberra Raiders where he carved out an impressive career, scoring 44 tries in 83 games. With speed to burn he could be a replacement for Hayne at fullback.
Wicks made his NRL debut for the St George Illawarra Dragons in 2006, going on to play 29 games over two seasons before moving to the Newcastle Knights for seasons 2008 and 2009, where he played 40 games. In September 2011, he was sentenced to a maximum of three years prison for supplying and possessing a prohibited drug. After serving 18-months, he was released on March 29, 2013. His contract registration is subject to discussions with the NRL and any conditions that may apply.
Fa’aoso announced his retirement in 2014 after breaking his neck the previous season but has made a remarkable recovery to earn a deal at the Eels. He has played 181 games across 7 clubs since making his NRL debut back in 2004, including a season at the Eels in 2007.