Inside the Deal: How Hull KR pulled off the signing of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves

Aaron Bower
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves Hull KR

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves has signed for Hull KR for 2025

It may only be February, but clubs are well underway with their preparations for next season – and arguably the biggest, most headline-grabbing deal so far was announced on Wednesday when Hull KR completed the surprise signing of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.

The New Zealand superstar has penned a one-year deal with the Robins for the 2025 season, and arrives with an enormous reputation and an impressive CV. Waerea-Hargreaves will be 36 when he begins life as a Rovers player in Super League, leading some to question the validity of the deal – but it was a signing that was not without significant due-diligence.

Here is an exclusive insight behind the scenes, thanks to input from people at the Robins, as to how the Waerea-Hargreaves was struck.

Deal happened inside ten days

As mentioned in the official quotes on the press release Hull KR circulated on Wednesday, tentative talks over the prospect of moving to Rovers took place between assistant coach Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Waerea-Hargreaves back in October at the Rugby World Cup Final in Paris. Waerea-Hargreaves and Kenny-Dowall are long-standing, close friends since their days at the Roosters.

Kenny-Dowall was largely instrumental in the deal happening, but it wasn’t until last month, when Waerea-Hargreaves’ NRL future became clear, did talks only truly begin. Kenny-Dowall alerted Rovers that Waerea-Hargreaves was looking to Super League as an option, with his time at the Roosters coming to an end, and Rovers acted fast.

Head coach Willie Peters, another keen admirer of Waerea-Hargreaves, insisted to the club’s hierarchy that they had to press for a deal and ignore the headline of the prop’s age. He would still provide enormous value on and off the field, and Peters was a major driver in talks.

From start to finish, the deal was pretty much completed inside ten days.

Willie Peters and Shaun Kenny-Dowall
Willie Peters (left) and Shaun Kenny-Dowall (right) were key drivers in the deal – Alamy

“His research on the club was scary”

Naturally, Waerea-Hargreaves entered negotiations knowing he would have to take a significant pay-cut to join Rovers – he is earning well over $600,000 in the NRL.

But according to one individual at Rovers: “Waerea-Hargreaves is one of the most professional individuals we’ve ever dealt with.” He entered talks without an agent and did the negotiations himself, and was fine with the pay structure put in place.

But what blew Rovers officials away was just how meticulous Waerea-Hargreaves’ homework was on his new club. “You talk to some players and they’ve no clue about where they’re coming to,” Love Rugby League has been told. “But this was unreal with Jared. He blew our mind with his research on the club: it was scary.

“He knew all about the area around the club, where we were based, where he would base himself, and kept talking about how the working-class areas the club is based upon relates to his childhood.” From that moment on, Rovers were convinced they had a player who was coming for the right reasons.

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Impact off the field, as well as on it

Naturally, the hope is that Waerea-Hargreaves becomes one of Super League’s big enforcers, even at 36. But Rovers see a similar trend to the way Waerea-Hargreaves’ close friend’s Hull KR career panned out.

Kenny-Dowall was just as significant in shaping a stronger culture off the field at Hull KR, as well as on it. With younger forwards like Sam Luckley and Elliot Minchella approaching their prime years, plus a plethora of younger talent beneath them, Waerea-Hargreaves is expected to help shape the careers of his team-mates with his experience and attitude.

One concern quickly dispelled

As well as his age, there were also discussions in the negotiations about the fact that next year, Waerea-Hargreaves will be arriving into a very different competition to the one he plays in this year in regards to tackle laws.

Already controversial in the opening round of 2024, Super League will lower the tackle height even further next year as things stand, and without any prior experience of that – Super League clubs are believed to already be considering trialling it in training throughout this year to ready themselves – how would Waerea-Hargreaves fare?

It was raised during talks, but Waerea-Hargreaves stressed to Rovers officials that he will adapt, and he is well aware of the changes that are coming over the horizon. He insisted to the club that he will do his homework and arrive ready and prepared for what may happen with the laws of the game in 2025.

Nothing ruled out beyond 2025

It is perhaps no surprise given Waerea-Hargreaves’ age that he has only signed a one-year contract at the Robins. However, both parties are understood to be relaxed about that one-year deal and happy with the arrangement.

For Rovers, it gives them a much lower risk on their investment, knowing that if the deal doesn’t materialise as planned, Waerea-Hargreaves could leave after a year. However, the player himself is reportedly extremely keen to come on a one-year deal and attempt to silence the doubters who believes that when he arrives at the age of 36, he will do so unable to perform in Super League.

He was the driver on a one-year deal rather than a two, Love Rugby League has been told, with Waerea-Hargreaves certainly open to a second year if all goes to plan. But the prop wants to prove he can deliver in Super League and earn his second year.

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