Leeds sign Australian forward

Leeds have signed Australian forward Mitch Achurch from Penrith Panthers on a four-year deal.

Achurch, 24, will join the Rhinos in time for next season and has expressed a desire to represent England at the 2013 World Cup, qualifying through his London-born mother.

He said: “It was obviously a big decision for me but my mum still has a lot of family in England and this feels like the right decision for me.

“I think the Super League competition will suit my natural game and I am excited about coming over to England for the next four years at least but hopefully longer.”

“My first focus is coming over and doing my best for Leeds Rhinos but obviously with my heritage that would make me available for England and the World Cup next year. There is a long way to go between now and then and I need to be playing well but training and playing with world class players at the Rhinos can only help me to develop as a player.”

Previously with the North Queensland Cowboys, Achurch has made eight NRL appearances for the Panthers this season, including last weekend’s defeat against Melbourne.

Measuring up at 6’5″ and 18 stone, he can play in both the front row and back row, as well as in the centres.

Head Coach Brian McDermott added: “We are always looking to identify young talent both in Super League and elsewhere and Mitch is someone we were keen to sign once we have spotted his potential. At 24, he is obviously not the finished product but it has been great to speak to him and hear his appetite to develop and fulfil his potential here at the Rhinos over the next four seasons.”

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