Leigh Centurions have confirmed the signing of Papua New Guinea international Nene Macdonald, who becomes the latest addition to the playing squad ahead of the 2022 Betfred Championship campaign.
Macdonald, 27, has played nearly 100 games in the NRL and represented his country in both the 2013 and 2017 World Cup competitions.
More recently, he played a major part in North Devils winning the Queensland Cup grand final after a thrilling 16-10 victory over Wynnum Manly Seagulls last month.
Speaking from his home on the Gold Coast, Macdonald said: “I’m super excited to have signed for Leigh Centurions and I can’t wait to get over and play.
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“I’ve heard such a lot of good things about the club and the community and all the people I’ve spoken to at the club have been really friendly and welcoming.
“I’m hoping to get over as soon as possible. Coming to live and play in the UK has long been an ambition of mine and this is the perfect opportunity for me.
“I’ve known Adrian Lam for a while now. He’s a legend in PNG and we’ve kept in touch over the years. He told me he wanted me to come over and having him at Leigh will make the transition easier.
“Playing in the grand final was a great experience and to finish the season on a high after the stressful year we’ve had, stuck in a Covid bubble, was very special. It was a really good game and went back and forth and to come out on top was a great feeling.
“Now I’m hoping for a big year with Leigh Centurions and to finish it playing for my country again in the World Cup. It’s a massive honour playing for PNG and having already played in two World Cups I can’t wait to experience that again.”
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Leigh Centurions Head of Rugby Chris Chester explained that Head Coach Adrian Lam knew all about Macdonald’s qualities and was keen to get him on board at Leigh Sports Village.
Chester said: “Adrian has worked with Nene before and recommended him. He’s a big lad, 6ft4 and a great athlete. He’s got great leg speed and will bring strike on the edge.
“Nene is a class player and a really exciting signing for the club. We are looking forward to him getting over here.”
Macdonald was born in the PNG capital, Port Moresby, but moved to Queensland as a youngster, graduating through the Kirwan State High School in Townsville, whose long list of famous Rugby League-playing alumni include such notable players such as Brent Webb, Sam Thaiday and Robert Lui.
He represented Australian Schoolboys and Queensland Under-20s, then played under coach Lam for PNG at the 2013 World Cup, before making a try-scoring NRL debut for Sydney Roosters in 2014.
Macdonald has subsequently played for Gold Coast Titans, St George Illawarra, North Queensland Cowboys and Cronulla Sharks in the NRL, scoring a total of 35 tries in 98 games.
He also represented his country four years ago, scoring three tries in four appearances for Papua New Guinea at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup as they reached the quarter finals.