New Catalans Dragons signing Justin Horo says he wants to make his mark in Super League and believes the French club can challenge for silverware next season.
Horo has signed with Catalans from the Manly Sea Eagles on a two-year deal. The 29-year old has spent six years in the NRL and made 120 appearances for Manly and Parramatta.
Horo was part of the cleanout at Brookvale this year with coach Geoff Toovey removed and new boss Trent Barrett installed.
A raft of players have left the Sea Eagles with new blood brought in.
But the forward is adamant he his not headed to France for a holiday or early retirement, and said he has plenty of good football left in him.
“I felt like the timing was right,” Horo said.
“I was speaking to a few clubs in the NRL, speaking to a few clubs in Super League and Catalans came up.
“With the lifestyle and the beaches I’ve been used to in the northern beaches, and they were recruiting a pretty healthy squad.
“When I had a chat to the club about who else they were looking at and what did eventuate, I just thought this was the right opportunity to come over.
“I kind of feel like I’ve got plenty of good footy left in me too.
“I probably just didn’t want to come over here at the end of my career.
“I still wanted to come over here and play some good footy at the club and with the team we’ve assembled I think we’re going to be right in the mix at the end of the year.”
Horo made his NRL debut with the Eels in 2010 and spent four years at the club before joining Manly.
The second-rower resurrected his career at the maroon and white, crossing for 14 tries in 68 games.
In 2015 Horo managed 18 appearances in what was a tough season for the Sea Eagles, with the club just missing the finals for the first time in a decade and Toovey departing.
“It was a bit up and down for myself,” the Auckland-born forward admits.
“[But] we kind of went out on a good note.
“We played some good footy at the end of the year and I kind of found myself back in the starting line-up for the last six or so games.
“I got into some form at the end of the year and I have nothing but positive feelings towards the Manly club.
“I enjoyed my time there. I can see myself moving back to the northern beaches at some stage after footy.
“I loved every minute but this is a new chapter in my life and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Horo comes from a family with a strong rugby league pedigree as his both his father Mark and uncle Shane represented New Zealand.
Justin has made one appearance for the New Zealand Maori in 2010.
The hard-running back-rower, who can also fill in at hooker, said he has come to Super League with an open mind.
With the likes of internationals Dave Taylor, Pat Ritchards and Glenn Stewart joining Catalans, Horo is confident that the Dragons can mount a strong challenge in 2016 but he isn’t expecting an easy ride.
“Even though you’ve played a couple of games back in the NRL I think I’m going try to learn the Super League game for myself,” he said.
“You have a lot of people that try to give you tips on what to expect.
“But I’m going to take it in my stride and not get ahead of myself and not think that just because I’ve played in the NRL that it’s going to be any easier or anything like that.
“I just want to sit back and have a look at Super League and see what types of things I can bring to my game that benefit myself over here and then just keep working with the boys I’ve got in the team and see how I go.”