Canberra have confirmed the signing of Wigan front-rower Ryan Sutton on a two-year deal from the 2019 season.
The 22-year-old has played 107 games for the Warriors since making his first team debut back in 2014.
A member of the England Knights Performance squad, Sutton won the Super League Grand Final in 2016 with Wigan and also played in their 2017 World Club Challenge win over Cronulla Sharks.
Sutton has made it clear in the past that it is his dream to compete in the NRL and is now looking forward to his time with the Raiders.
He said: “Being a young lad from Wigan it was a tough decision to make to leave my hometown club but I’ve always wanted to try my hand in the NRL and this was a great opportunity for me.
“I’m grateful to all of the coaching staff and players that have helped me develop not just as a player but as a person too.
“I am still a Wigan player this year and I am hungry to leave with more silverware and will give 100% in everything I do until my departure.”
Raiders’ recruitment and high-performance director Peter Mulholland says the signing of Sutton is a big coup for the club, who already have Englishmen Josh Hodgson and Elliott Whitehead in their ranks.
Mulholland said: “Ryan is a tremendous young talent who I know was looking for an opportunity to test himself in the NRL and we’re thrilled to have been able to get him into our squad for the next two seasons.
“He’s been in tremendous form for Wigan this season and we’re looking forward to him having a big pre-season with the Raiders and making the move into the NRL.
“With the departure of Junior Paulo and Shannon Boyd at the end of the season, we have been looking for some young and upcoming talent to fill their positions and we believe Ryan is the perfect fit. We wish him all the best for the remainder of the season with Wigan.”
Warriors executive director Kris Radlinski is sad to see Sutton leave the club but wished him all the best for the future.
He added: “It is disappointing to lose a player who we have helped develop through our academy and someone who we believe can and will improve in the future.
“That said, a Rugby League player only has a short career and Ryan has given five seasons of great service to Wigan.
“Ryan made this decision a long time ago and has been transparent throughout this process. He made no secret of his desire to play in Australia. There were actually no negotiations, Ryan knew that he wanted NRL and stuck firm to that.
“With Ben Flower, Tony Clubb and Taulima Tautai all under contract, the positive form of Romain Navarette and Gabe Hamlin, versatility of Joel Tomkins and Sean O’Loughlin and youngsters such as Callum Field and Samy Kibula waiting for their chance we feel we are well placed to cope with this loss. It also gives us the opportunity to look at the market to see who is available for 2019.
“We wish him every success for the future as he looks to fulfil his dreams overseas.”