Hull KR have confirmed the signing of French hooker John Boudebza from Lezignan.
The 24-year-old joins the Robins on a 12-month contract, with the option for a second year at the KC Lightstream Stadium, and will help plug the gap created by the departure of Josh Hodgson.
John has impressed in the competition over in France and, from what I've seen of him, I'm positive he can adapt to playing in Super League.
He is a talented young kid who we've been monitoring for a number of weeks now. He knows it will be a big challenge and that he will have to earn a chance to play in the side but he has backed himself by coming over here.
Boudebza, who came through the ranks at Catalans Dragons and also had a spell with Pia, will join up with former Dragons forward Kevin Larroyer at the Robins.
An opportunity was offered to me at Rovers and, after talking with Kevin Larroyer, I realised how big a chance it was.
He spoke of the warm reception he had from the fans and of a good coach and players. Hull KR are very ambitious and I realised it was the club for me.
Hull KR have signed Gold Coast Titans half-backs Albert Kelly and Maurice Blair as the replacements for departed overseas pair Travis Burns and Kris Keating.
Both Kelly, 23, and Blair, who turned 30 on Thursday, were under contract with the Titans for another 12 months but were released to enable them to sign two-year deals with the Robins.
Their capture takes the club's tally of new signings to eight for the 2015 season as head coach Chris Chester rebuilds the side that failed to reach the First Utility Super League play-offs this year.
Burns was sold to St Helens while Keating was released by mutual consent after a disappointing first season in England.
"They're two very exciting players and we're really pleased to add them to our squad for next season," Chester said.
"They both have good kicking games, they're strong defenders and we are expecting Albert in particular to set the Super League on fire in the halves.
"We've done our homework on the pair of them and we are really confident they will be a good fit both for the club and the Super League competition.
"I'd still like to bring another half-back in as well as these two. The good thing about Maurice is that he can play left centre as well and he'll also be challenging for a spot in the team in that position."
Kelly, a former Australian schoolboy international, has scored 18 tries in 47 appearances for the Titans and Cronulla while Blair has made 99 NRL appearances for Penrith, Melbourne and the Titans.
Titans head coach Neil Henry said: "They were given a rare opportunity to play together as halves by Hull KR and they get the security of two-year deals.
"We feel we have good depth in the halves here so we agreed to allow Albert to take this opportunity in the Super League and, at 30, Maurice has the chance to extend his career which we are also happy to accommodate. We wish them both great success over there."
Hull KR winger David Hodgson is to hang up his boots and become the club's assistant coachRead the full story ›
Hull Kingston Rovers assistant first team coach Stanley Gene has left the club with the former Papua New Guinea international now expected to take up a full-time role with Gateshead.
Gene, who made more than 170 appearances for the Robins as a player, has divided his time this season between his position at the KC Lightstream Stadium and working part-time as head coach of the Thunder.
Steering KR’s partner club to the play-offs in Championship 1, he is now set to take up a full-time position in the North East after Rovers boss Chris Chester opted to bring in his own staff for 2015.
I’m disappointed that I won’t be staying at Rovers, a club that means a lot to me, but I wish everybody here all the best for next season.
I had a chat with Chezzy when he took over about what he had in mind for next year and he was up front about wanting to bring his own people in. It was tough to take at first but I understand his reasons why.
I’ve learned a lot over the past three years and I’m grateful to Hull KR for giving me an opportunity to come back to the club after my playing days finished. I love the club and the fans and I leave with some great memories. I’ll be in the stands supporting the team as often as I can next season and who knows, maybe I’ll be back here as a coach one day.
You have to move on in life and I’m excited about taking on a bigger role at Gateshead. I’m really proud of what the team achieved this season and my focus now is on having another good year in 2015.
Sheffield Eagles have signed former Bradford captain Jamie Langley from Hull KR.
The 30-year-old forward, who won every domestic honour during an 11-year spell with the Bulls, has signed a two-year contract with the Championship club and will also be part of their coaching team.
Sheffield head coach and chief executive Mark Aston said: "We are delighted that Jamie has chosen to join us. I am looking forward to working with him both as a player and as a coach.
"We have a relatively young forward pack and his knowledge and experience will be invaluable to them.
"I am sure that Jamie will quickly become a fans' favourite and build on the reputation he has already gained from his experiences in both Super League and International rugby."
Langley, who was not offered a new contract by Hull KR, said: "It's a new challenge for me and I'm really excited to get going. When I was weighing up my options, I spoke to a few of the Sheffield lads and none of them had a bad word to say about the club."
Langley, who won his only Great Britain cap against France in 2007, is looking forward to cutting his coaching teeth with the Eagles.
"I'm going to be playing first and foremost and I want to play on for as many years as possible," he said.
"Helping on the coaching side of things is really appealing to me at this stage. I feel like I have a lot to offer having worked under some great coaches during my career. You learn little bits from each one and hopefully I can part with some of that wisdom myself."
Hull Kingston Rovers boss Chris Chester has strengthened his back-room staff for 2015 with the addition of vastly experienced Willie Poching as his new assistant coach.
Chester was appointed as the club’s head coach on a full-time basis last week and has wasted no time in snapping up the services of the highly rated Poching to be his right-hand man.
Currently a first team coach alongside Tony Smith at Warrington, Poching will link up with the Robins at the end of the season on a one-year contract and says he can’t wait to get started at the KC Lightstream Stadium.
It’s a very different challenge but one that I’m very excited about to help a new coach and come to a club that’s really ambitious off the field as well as on the pitch. I’ve known Chris for a while and I was excited when we had a chat. It was an easy conversation to have and I like his ideas and his philosophies with what he’s trying to do here. Hopefully I can have a positive influence and pass on some of my experience to him, as well as learning from Chris himself and the players. There’s some guys in this squad who have been around the block for a while and there’s some young players really looking to make a mark, so it’s a good mix and they’ll have a say as well.
Poching enjoyed an illustrious playing career before turning his hand to coaching and represented both New Zealand and Samoa as well as having successful spells with Wakefield and Leeds in Super League.
After hanging up his boots in 2006, he was part of the coaching set-up at the Rhinos under first Tony Smith and then Brian McClennan, before going on to coach the Samoa national side. He would later follow Smith to Warrington where he has spent the past four seasons.
Helping to lead the Wolves to the League Leaders Shield in his first season, Poching was also part of the Warrington staff which won the Challenge Cup in 2012 and featured in last season’s Grand Final.
Willie has learnt his trade under some very good coaches at some very successful clubs so we’re looking forward to what he will bring to Hull KR. He is very well thought of within the game and he’s got a lot of experience as both a player and a coach, so the input he will have into the culture at the club will be invaluable. I’ve known him since he first came over to the Super League with Wakefield and he has never lost his enthusiasm for rugby league. He’s a great person to have around the squad and he’ll have a big part to play in what we are trying to achieve here.
Hull KR have agreed to release full-back Greg Eden from the final year of his contract to enable him to make a move to Australia.
Eden, 23, who was famously dubbed England's Billy Slater by Nathan Brown two years ago during their time together at Huddersfield, is thought to have secured a contract with Brisbane Broncos.
The Castleford-born player has made 37 appearances for the Robins since joining them from Huddersfield two years ago.
"I've really enjoyed my time at Hull KR and I wish everybody here all the best for the future," said Eden, who had loan spell at Salford earlier this season after losing the full-back spot to Ben Cockayne.
"It's a great club and I'm sure good things are around the corner under Chris Chester but I didn't feel personally that I could turn this opportunity down.
"I've always had an ambition to play in the NRL and it's a great chance for me to go over there and hopefully improve my game."
Hull KR chief executive Mike Smith said: "We have retained an option on Greg's services should he return to Super League but he makes the move to the NRL with our best wishes.
"We have been planning for his departure as we look to strengthen our squad for 2015 and have already recruited heavily in the outside backs for next season.
"I'd like to thank Greg for his service to Hull KR over the past two years and wish him good luck with his new club."
There is more than just city pride at stake in tonight's Hull derby in Super League.
It is a must win game for both Hull FC and Hull KR if they have serious aspirations of making the end of season playoffs.
John Shires reports:
Hull FC players have praised their fans ahead of a crunch Super League derby game with city rivals Hull KR.
A win could put FC just a point behind Rovers in the league but it has been a disappointing season for both in the bottom half of the table.
Mickey Paea is one of few players to have crossed the divide and he told Chris Dawkes how important the FC fans are:
Hull KR's Ade Gardner says he underestimated the ferocity of the city's rugby league rivalry before he moved to East Yorkshire.
Hull KR are away to Hull FC tonight in the Super League at the KC Stadium.
Gardner told Chris Dawkes before moving to Rovers he did not realise the intensity of the derby: