Italy star returns to his former Championship club

Drew Darbyshire
Ryan King Italy PA

Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/PA Images

Whitehaven have re-signed Italy international Ryan King on a deal until the end of the season following his release from Halifax.

The 25-year-old left Haven at the end of last season to take up an opportunity with fellow Championship club Halifax.

But last week King was granted a release from his contract with the Panthers after playing just two games.

King, who represented Italy at last year’s World Cup, will now return to Whitehaven immediately, having scored 20 tries in 37 games for the club between 2021-22.

Whitehaven coach Jonty Gorley said: “Things haven’t worked out for Kingy at Halifax as he’d have liked them too so when he came available I jumped at the chance to have a talk with him.

“Everyone at Whitehaven knows what Kingy can do, with him being with us previously, he’s a threat with the ball and we need as many threats as we can get to make us a harder team to beat.

“He’ll give us a bit more competition for places too and more of that I have as a coach the better.”

Whitehaven vice presidents help club re-sign fan favourite

Ryan King Whitehaven

Photo courtesy of Whitehaven RLFC

King enjoyed a standout season with Whitehaven in 2022, scoring 14 tries in 27 games as he earned a call-up to Italy’s World Cup squad.

Des Byrne, speaking on behalf of Whitehaven’s vice presidents who helped bring King back to the Recreation Ground, said: “The Vice Presidents are delighted to be able to help Jonty, again, with his squad building.

“We have been squad building for 13 years. Ryan King is the twelfth member of the 2023 squad we have helped sign. We thank our members for their tremendous support.”

Ryan King on leaving Halifax

Speaking when his departure from Halifax was announced last Monday, King said: “Although I have learned a lot during my short time here, I have found my time at Halifax difficult, primarily off the field.

“I feel this has affected my wellbeing and performance. Subsequently, I have asked for a release.

“Halifax display high quality players, coaching and facilities, as well as committed fans. I would like to thank them for giving me the opportunity to work in a professional friendly environment; and wish them all the best in the future.”

Representing Italy

King was born and raised in Australia but qualifies to play for Italy through his family heritage.

The Wollongong-born forward has won five caps for Italy since making his international debut in 2019.

Speaking to Love Rugby League at the European Championship draw in February, King said: “My mum’s Italian. My mum, nonna (grandmother) and nonno (grandfather) were born in Italy.

“For me it’s pretty big, I grew up with my Italian heritage very close to me. They still don’t speak much English so pulling on this blue jersey is big for me. I love it every time.”

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