Leigh Leopards boss discusses Aaron Pene debut prospects – and his ‘explosive’ attributes

Drew Darbyshire
Aaron Pene Melbourne Storm Leigh Leopards Alamy

Aaron Pene has joined Leigh Leopards from Melbourne Storm

Leigh Leopards coach Adrian Lam has confirmed new signing Aaron Pene will be part of his 21-man squad to face Leeds Rhinos on Friday – but hasn’t made a decision yet on whether he will make his debut this weekend.

Powerhouse prop Pene arrived in England towards the end of last week after penning a two-and-a-half-year contract with the Leopards.

The 28-year-old, who has made 32 appearances in the NRL with New Zealand Warriors and Melbourne Storm, had his first training session with his new club Leigh on Tuesday morning.

Leigh face Leeds in Round 15 of Super League on Friday night, and Pene will be amongst the travelling contingent at Headingley.

“We’ll name him in the squad,” Leigh coach Lam told Love Rugby League. “He trained today, but I’m always wary of players travelling long haul across into the UK and jet leg setting in and things like that.

“It is a short turnaround into Leeds and we’ll give Aaron every opportunity but I’m just going to monitor him this week and see how he goes, if he’s not quite up to it with anything that he needs to tick off, especially with the load and the high intensity stuff, then it might not be until we play Wigan so we’ll not make a decision on that right up until gameday.

“He had his first session with the squad today. He trained here on Saturday and he was also here when we arrived back on the bus from Catalans on Sunday to greet all the players. He was here when we got off the bus which was a nice touch, so he got to meet all the players and train with the group today.

“It will take a couple of weeks for him to settle in, as it does with all the international players, so we’ve just got to make sure he settles in more than what a normal player would do at the start of the season.”

SCOUTING REPORT: What can Leigh Leopards expect from new recruit Aaron Pene?

Adrian Lam details what the Leigh Leopards fans can expect from Aaron Pene

Pene, who was born in Australia and is of Samoan and German heritage, has signed a deal with the Leopards until the end of the 2026 season.

Explaining the prop’s key attributes and what the Leigh fans can expect, Lam said: “He’s a big body for starters – I think he’s 6ft 3in or 6ft 4in – he’s explosive which is my type of player and he can be aggressive defensively.

“He’s been in a system there at Melbourne which is probably one of the best in the world in the sense of how they develop their players, so I’m hoping that he has got all of that up to speed and we’ll work all of that out, if it’s not quite there, then it’s my job to make sure that I bring him on to a player that he needs to be as quick as we can.

“I’m pretty excited to see him in the team, in my time here we’ve probably never had a really gun bench or a bench that can be like a game-breaker. We’ve had players at times that have come on and done a job but it’s probably an area that we haven’t been the strongest on in competing, so he’ll probably come off the bench to start with and if he can find his feet there then I think the fans will love him.”

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