Anthony Gelling, who recently returned to Auckland after six seasons in England, has been signed by the New Zealand Warriors on a one-year contract.
After being given an early release by the Wigan Warriors, the Cook Islands international was invited to train with the Warriors this week.
“It’s a stroke of luck for us that Anthony has come back,” said Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney.
“He proved himself in the Super League and has immediately impressed us at training this week.
“We’re thrilled we’ve been able to add him to our squad. He brings size and some special skills, providing further depth and increasing competition among our outside backs.”
In his six seasons with Wigan, Gelling (27) scored 52 tries in 114 appearances and also represented the Cook Islands at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.
“Rugby league wasn’t the reason I came home,” he said.
“I’d had six seasons in England and I really wanted to be back in New Zealand around my family. I’m grateful for everything Wigan did for me and for allowing me to head home early.
“I wasn’t sure what would happen with my career but the opportunity came up to train with the Vodafone Warriors this week and now I’m excited about signing for the club.”
Gelling was a Super League grand final winner with Wigan at Old Trafford in 2016 and was also in its beaten side in the 2014 decider.
He helped Wigan to its World Club Challenge win against Cronulla in 2017 as well as playing in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley (a match Hull FC won).
He last played in New Zealand in 2011 when he was in the NZ Warriors’ feeder side the Auckland Vulcans, who lost 28-30 to the Canterbury-Bankstown Bankstown in the dying moments of the New South Wales Cup at ANZ Stadium. The same season he tasted success at Auckland club level when the Howick Hornets won the Fox Memorial premiership for the first time.