York City Knights have confirmed the loan signing of Leigh half-back Ata Hingano with immediate effect.
The 25-year-old joined the Centurions ahead of the 2022 season from Salford. He originally made the switch to England with the Red Devils in 2021.
The half-back or hooker came through the ranks at New Zealand Warriors, making his NRL debut in 2016.
He made 24 appearances Down Under before moving to Salford midway through last season.
Hingano has won eight caps for Tonga. He was part of the Tonga squad that reached the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2017.
Ata Hingano excited for loan switch
He said: “I’m really happy to have joined the Knights. I’ve learned to love and find my groove again for the game of rugby league and to be able to continue that on with a great club that’s moving in the right direction towards the top really excites me.
“I had a conversation with Clint and the fact it’s a family club appeals to me. The support for the players, their families and the work in the community is reassuring to hear. That’s a really big thing for me, obviously my immediate family is back in New Zealand and I’ve made good friends over here but that really appealed to me.”
Hingano will be hoping to earn a place in Kristian Woolf’s Tonga squad ahead of this year’s World Cup in England.
“It’s big for me,” he added. “I’ve come from a team where it’s pretty stacked across the board and it was hard to break into that team at times. Fair play to the boys at Leigh, they are playing really great footy.
“I know that I will still have to work hard to get my way into the team at York. I can’t just show up and take a spot, I will have to earn it, but regular time will definitely help. Every player knows that you need that game fitness. It’s a lot different to running behind the scenes, you need that game speed and all the up down tackles.
“The big international games are much and faster than any other game and regular game-time will create a good base for me and really help.”