Wakefield Trinity Wildcats have secured the services of powerful prop Lopini Paea on a one-year deal for 2015.
The 30-year old Tongan international follows Catalans Dragons teammate Mickael Simon in swapping the south of France for West Yorkshire next season having made 76 Super League appearances for the French club including 19 in 2014.
Paea has averaged more metres per carry than any other Dragons forward during the First Utility Super League campaign and becomes the fourth new addition to the Trinity squad for 2015 following the signings of Simon, Craig Hall and Matty Ashurst as James Webster prepares for his first full season at the helm.
Standing at 6ft tall and weighing 16st 3lb, Paea has over a decade of first grade experience having started his career at Sydney Roosters where he made 95 appearances, playing in the 2010 Grand Final before leaving to join the Dragons in 2011.
He captained Tonga in the 2008 World Cup and is the brother of Hull FC prop, Mickey Paea.
“It’s a new challenge for me, a new lifestyle and I feel like a big kid starting all over again,” said Paea.
“I’m really looking forward to coming to Wakefield and recapturing some of my best form again. I’ve been really impressed with the way the team have been playing for each other since James Webster has taken over and as a player that’s something you want to be part of.
“I’ve spoken to him a couple of times and I was really impressed with what he had to say.”
Paea will join a list of front rowers that includes current teammate Simon, Grand Final winners Scott Anderson and Nick Scruton as well as youngster Daniel Smith, all of whom signed extensions to their contracts earlier in the year.
“I think we’ll have a good balance of options in there,” said Paea of Trinity’s front row forwards. “There’s some experience, some grunt and some impact. We all bring our different styles and I think they can complement each other to help take the team forward.
“The stakes are raised with the new structure for next year and I think the desire for teams to be in the top eight will be even higher than ever. I think Castleford have shown what can be achieved this year with hard work and I see a similar potential for Wakefield to make an impact and be part of the top eight in 2015.”
“He’s an experienced player and been a pivotal part of what is a very big and aggressive pack at Catalans,” said Webster. “We’re extremely happy to have him with us for next year.
“I think we’re well covered with Simon, Scruton, Anderson, Paea and Daniel Smith coming through as well. We’re looking a lot stronger in that area for next year.”
You can sign up for 2015 on Monday when season tickets go on sale. There’s a guaranteed 14 home matches for you to enjoy plus the option to spread the cost over six months. For all the details click HERE.