Leeds swoop for Cross

Leeds have signed Australian prop Ben Cross on a two-year deal after his club Newcastle agreed to his release.

Cross, 31, and his manager Stev Stone approached the Knights last week for permission to investigate opportunities in Super League, and following an offer from the Rhinos, the NRL side agreed to release Cross from the last year of his contract.

Cross said: “I really appreciate the support I have had from the Knights, I have had three fantastic seasons there but the opportunity to join the Leeds Rhinos came up and I am pleased that we have been able to sort out a deal.

“I spoke to Danny Buderus about Leeds and he could not speak highly enough about the city, the club and his team mates and that made my mind up. Leeds have consistently been the top team in Super League over recent years and that consistent striving for success is something that really appeals to me.”

Cross has played 95 times in the NRL after making his debut with Canberra Raiders in 2003, before moving on to Melbourne, winning the NRL Grand Final in 2007, and then on to the Knights in 2008.

McClennan said: “Danny Buderus speaks very highly of Ben and we are pleased he has agreed to join us. It is important when you sign anyone, but especially someone from overseas, that they understand our culture as a club and want to be part of that and Ben certainly fits the bill for us.”

Cross has played State of Origin for New South Wales twice and was named in Australia‘s preliminary World Cup squad, but missed out on final section, in 2008.

Knights Strategic Development Manager Keith Onslow said: “There has been an opportunity presented to Ben to further extend his playing career beyond 2011 which he has chosen to pursue and his request for release was granted.

“Crossy intended to finish his career in England, it is a little sooner than we had anticipated but we wish Ben and his young family all the best for the future.”

Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington added: “I would like to thank the Newcastle Knights for their help in making this deal possible and giving Ben the chance to come and play in the Engage Super League.”

Leeds last week sold Kiwi forward Greg Eastwood, who has returned to the NRL with Canterbury Bulldogs.

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