Wests Tigers are pleased to confirm the re-signing of utility Dene Halatau on a one-year deal, and also the addition of hooker Matt Ballin from Manly-Warringah.
The pair boast more than 400 first-grade games between them, strengthening the level of experience within the Club’s playing roster for the 2016 season.
Halatau has played a total of 226 NRL matches since making his debut in 2003, with 157 appearances for Wests Tigers over two separate stints.
The Merrylands and North Ryde junior spent four seasons with the Bulldogs (2010-13), before returning to Wests Tigers in 2014.
Ballin, 31, made his NRL debut for Manly-Warringah in 2007 and has played 217 first grade games over nine seasons.
The Kingaroy junior has won two premierships with the Sea Eagles (2008 and 2011), whilst also representing Queensland during the 2010 State of Origin series.
Ballin today signed a two-year contract with Wests Tigers after being granted an early release from Manly-Warringah, where he was contracted until the end of 2016.
Head Coach Jason Taylor said he is delighted to have both players at the Club for the upcoming season.
“We have been working really hard to strengthen depth at the Club,” Taylor said.
“Bringing Matt into the fold means that we currently have three specialist hookers in the full-time squad - the same number we had during the 2015 season.
“Now with Joel Luani leaving the Club it was imperative that we acquired another hooker.
“As a result, we are well-placed should injury or suspension arise, whilst also ensuring that there is healthy competition for positions in the Club’s first grade side.
“Dene has played nine seasons at Wests Tigers and is a great leader amongst the current playing group.
“I’m really happy to have him back for 2016 because of his positive attitude and professionalism at training.”
Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe is confident that both players will further strengthen the playing roster for next season.
“It’s really pleasing to have a great Clubman like Dene re-sign with Wests Tigers,” Pascoe said. “He is an excellent ambassador and an asset to the organisation.
“We have also managed to negotiate a very favourable deal with Manly-Warringah to release Matt from the final year of his contract.
“Matt is a premiership-winning player who will no doubt bring experience and enthusiasm to the Club ahead of the 2016 season.
“Both players have a high-level of experience and will certainly strengthen the Club’s roster for next season.”
Date of Birth: 27-01-1983
Rep. Honours: 15 Tests for NZ (2004–09), Tri-Nations (2004), World Cup (2008)
Junior Clubs: Merrylands Rams; North Ryde Hawks
Previous Clubs: Wests Tigers (2003-09), Canterbury-Bankstown (2010-13)
FG Debut: Wests Tigers vs. Manly-Warringah, Leichhardt Oval, 08/06/2003 (Rd.13)
Date of Birth: 05-01-1984
Rep. Honours: Queensland (2010)
Junior Clubs: Kingaroy Red Ants
Previous Clubs: Manly-Warringah (2007-15)
FG Debut: Manly-Warringah vs. Wests Tigers, Leichhardt Oval, 24/03/2007 (Rd. 2)