Big Willie causes a stir in Hull - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Big Willie causes a stir in Hull

Tom Wald 09/03/2011 11:08:22 AM Comments (0)

He is used to drawing a crowd but Willie Mason admitted he wasn't used to facing such a large press gathering without some sort of controversy attached to it.

The former NRL enforcer was welcomed by seven television cameras and a couple of dozen journalists for his arrival press conference at Hull KR at Craven Park on Tuesday.

His opening address was aired live on local BBC radio and Hull KR fans paid money to watch a live stream of his comments at a nearby bar at the ground.

Mason, viewed as arguably the biggest signing in Super League history, was blown away by the reception after landing in Manchester on Monday.

"I was very surprised when I walked through the door," said the 30-year-old, who even appeared a tad on the nervous side at times.

"I don't really know what to say, it has been a little bit frustrating because I missed out on a couple of games and the pre-season.

"I have been to a few press conferences (of this size) but not for these reasons," he added with a smile.

Mason passed the ball with team-mates for the first time in four months after his arrival was delayed by visa problems.

The long-time Canterbury Bulldogs forward is expected to make his debut off the bench in this weekend's home match against the Celtic Crusaders.

Asked if he was looking forward to shaping up against Stuart Fielden, who he floored with a punch in an international match in 2006, Mason said he could not wait to take him on again.

"Yeah I can't wait," he said about future battles with Jamie Peacock and Fielden.

" ...With Stuart Fielden that will just stay on the field and we will see what happens."

Hull KR are due to play Fielden's Wigan later this month.

The club have planned a veritable festival of Willie Mason in the coming days with a function on this Friday night in his honour and fans are being asked to pay to watch him train on Saturday.

He is being quickly versed about Hull KR's bitter rivalry with Hull FC with the former traditionally having the more working class support base.

"I think I could have played another five years in the NRL," Mason said.

"(With the delay), a lot of sharks were circling in the NRL and I could have backed out of the deal, I had that choice.

"But I don't want to play in the NRL, I have played there for 12 years and I wanted another challenge."

Mason joins former NRL players Joel Clinton, Clint Newton, Ben Galea, Michael Vella and Jake Webster at the club.

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