Eels release Riddell to join Wigan - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eels release Riddell to join Wigan

14/05/2008 07:20:27 PM Comments (0)

Parramatta forward Mark Riddell says a conversation with Wigan star Trent Barrett helped him decide to join the English Super League club.

The Eels released the hooker-cum-backrower from the final year of his NRL contract to join Barrett's current club after the 2008 season.

Riddell, the robust 27-year-old veteran of 167 NRL matches for St George Illawarra and the Eels, has secured a three-year deal with big-spending Wigan whose chairman Ian Lenagan has been on a player shopping trip in Australia this week.

"I spoke to Trent a few times," Riddell told AAP.

"I did a fair bit of research on the club and the area itself and just decided it would be the best fit for myself and my partner to get over there and see a bit of the world while we're over there."

Riddell said Barrett, who has asked for a release from the final year of his three-year deal with Wigan for personal reasons, had been positive about the club.

"He was. Everyone I've spoken to has told me I'm going to love it over there and the footy will suit me down to the ground and the fans and everything, it will be a real good fit for me," Riddell said.

"It was probably an easy choice in a way and I just thought it was the right time to get over there.

"I didn't want to really leave it until I was 29, 30 to try and get over there.

"I can get over there now and have three or four years over there and go from there.

"It was a good offer and it was good security for me."

Lenagan also met with Barrett's manager Wayne Beavis while in Sydney but the former Test five-eighth's release has still not been finalised.

Beavis said on Wednesday he was waiting for a call from Lenagan after the club suggested it should receive compensation for letting Barrett go.

The former Dragons captain wants a fresh start back in the NRL and is tipped to join Cronulla or Canberra.

While Barrett hopes to head home, Riddell said the player drain to England would start to involve more top-end NRL players due to changes in the overseas player quota at English clubs.

"I don't know whether it's going to stop," he said.

"The pound's probably not as strong as what it was but it's still twice the amount of the Australian dollar so it's interesting.

"I know it's going to get a lot harder to get over there in future years. The English clubs will only be picking the top quality Australian players because the quota on players comes down."

The Eels are hoping young hooker Matthew Keating will develop into Riddell's replacement.

"While we're sorry to see him go, we acknowledge opportunities such as the one presented by Wigan don't come along every day, and as such we have agreed to a release from the 2009 portion of his contract," Eels CEO Denis Fitzgerald said in a statement.

Lenagan said the Riddell signing was a key one for the club.

"He is exactly the type of hooker Wigan needs to lead our forwards and to further develop young Michael McIlorum," said Lenagan.

"Mark is a great character on the field who will go down very well with the Wigan fans and is looking forward to testing himself in the English Super League."

Riddell will move to the north of England in December.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2024 AAP

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