Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Following his debut in the 2019 NRL season, Newcastle Knights outside back Starford To’a spent the majority of 2020 on the sidelines before really breaking into Newcastle’s first grade squad last year.
In 2021, To’a appeared for the Knights on 12 occasions where he scored six tries, made 13 tackle breaks, eight line breaks and averaged 113 running metres per game.
The 21-year-old from Auckland will be hopeful of a spot in the New Zealand Kiwis squad for this year’s Rugby League World Cup, but is set to work for that spot in different colours, as Channel Nine’s The Mole reported this morning that To’a has signed with the Wests Tigers effective immediately, with the club confirming the signing soon after.
“Wests Tigers are pleased to announce the signing of outside back Starford To’a, effective immediately, for the next two seasons,” said the Tigers via their official website.
OFFICIAL — Wests Tigers are pleased to announce the signing of outside back Starford To’a. 🐯
— Wests Tigers (@WestsTigers) January 13, 2022
“Although To’a has played all of his NRL matches on the wing, he is capable of featuring at fullback and in the centres — adding great depth to the Wests Tigers backline.
“The Auckland-born To’a has already played at a representative level, having featured for the Junior Kiwis and Australian Schoolboys.”
Wests Tigers head coach Michael Maguire has also commented on the signing.
“Starford is a talented player with NRL experience and I’m really pleased to welcome him to our team,” Maguire said.
“Starford will be a great addition to the talented young squad that we’re building, and I look forward to him joining the team ahead of the 2022 NRL season.”
At the Tigers, To’a will join a new crop of backs that have joined the club within the past 12 months, including fellow countryman Ken Maumalo, England international Oliver Gildart, 2019 Super League Man of Steel Jackson Hastings and former New South Wales State of Origin representative Tyrone Peachey.
These new additions will join the likes of Daine Laurie, David Nofoaluma, Adam Doueihi and Luke Brooks at Concord.
A new look Tigers side for 2022 comes as the club looks to qualify for it’s first finals series in a staggering 11 years, the longest finals drought currently in the NRL.