Leigh Leopards make first signing for 2024 as international forward returns on permanent deal: ‘It doesn’t feel like joining a new club’

Ben Olawumi
Dan Norman Leigh Leopards Alamy

Dan Norman in action for Leigh Leopards

Leigh Leopards have added the first new face to their pack for 2024 in the shape of prop Dan Norman, who returns on a permanent two-year deal having departed St Helens.

Ireland international Norman – who made his Wolfhounds debut at last year’s World Cup – already has five appearances for the club to his name.

Two of those were made in a loan stint last year as Leigh powered on towards promotion with the other three coming this term, impressing in wins against both Hull FC and Hull KR, sandwiching a narrow defeat in Perpignan to now-Grand Finalists Catalans Dragons.

Leopards boss Lam admitted he was a player of interest to them in the longer-term during that short stint this year before Saints  cut short his spell at the Leigh Sports Village this term by recalling him.

The 26-year-old – who was off-contract – was let go by the Red Vee, named in their 11-strong departures list last month, and Norman’s move back to familiar territory down the East Lancs has now been sealed.

Leigh Leopards make first signing for 2024 as Dan Norman returns permanently

Warrington-born, the big forward’s professional bow came with Widnes Vikings in 2018. Amidst a whole host of loans, his only other permanent homes to date have been London Broncos and Saints, where he has made 21 appearances over the course of a three-year stint.

Upon putting pen to paper on this permanent deal with the Leopards, Norman was relishing the opportunity of regular gametime in 2024.

He said: “I’m really looking forward to joining Leigh on a permanent basis. It doesn’t feel like joining a new club and I know the lads, the staff, and the set-up.

“Watching the club’s development over the past two years has been really good. They’ve got a great coach in Lammy and a good bunch of lads and staff. With the environment they’ve created and the belief they have I always knew they could do it.

“I’ve enjoyed my time at Saints and being part of a team that made history. They’re one of the best teams there’s ever been. It’s always a challenge to get in the team and this year has been a bit of a hard year for me.

“I’m at the stage of my career where I need to play regularly, but I’m under no illusions how hard it will be and how hard I’ll have to work because Leigh’s pack has been immense this year.”

Leopards chief delighted to get first ‘new’ face through the door

With the club making no secret of their admiration of the Ireland international throughout the year, it’s no surprise that Leigh are equally excited to have secured Norman’s services for 2024 and beyond.

In the absence of head coach Lam, who is currently in the Australia camp ready for the start of the Pacific Championships in his role as the Kangaroos’ assistant coach, Head of Rugby Chris Chester added: “Dan fits the bill with the qualities Lammy wants in a player.

“He is a big, mobile, front-row forward with good leg speed. Having already had Dan at our club, we can’t speak highly enough of him as a player and a person.

“There are not many front-rowers of his quality around, so we are delighted to sign him as we feel his best years are in front of him.

“Maybe he’s got a bit frustrated these past couple of years being behind such quality players as Alex Walmsley and Matty Lees at Saints.

“His signing gives him the opportunity to stake a claim for a regular place in Super League which is what he needs at this stage of his career.”

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