FORMER SADDLEWORTH Rangers’ player Joe Greenwood has landed a dream move to play in Australia’s NRL.
The 23-year-old from Austerlands has signed a three-year contract with Gold Coast Titans.
Less than a week after touching down, Greenwood made his NRL debut but couldn’t help the Titans to victory against Sydney Roosters.
Following a 32-18 defeat, he posted on his Instagram account: “Enjoyed getting out there making my debut. It was a privilege to get presented my playing top too in front of all the boys.”
Speaking to the Independent before his move Down Under, the second-row forward said: “If I had turned it down, I may never have got another chance, and that would have been something that would have forever haunted me.”
Greenwood, who was in the last year of his contract, revealed the move happened quickly. It is a player-exchange with Zeb Taia moving to Langtree Park.
He said: “I had been negotiating a new deal with Saints since October. But when the offer came from Gold Coast Titans, I sat down with my agent and family and decided it was an opportunity I could not turn down.
“It is a big opportunity to push my career forward. The NRL is a tough competition, but I want to challenge myself and this is a new and exciting chapter in what is a short career.
“This is the ideal time as I have no ties, no children. It was a no brainer.”
Greenwood added that Gold Coast Titans, whose side finished sixth in the NRL last season, are building a team to push for a top-four place.
“They have some top players, the likes of New Zealander Kevin Proctor and Aussie Jarryd Hayne, big players with a lot of experience,” he said.
Greenwood admitted it was a “wrench” to leave Saints after more than eight years, but he is also looking forward to meeting up with his former Saints’ team-mate Jordan Turner who joined Canberra Raiders late last year.
Moorside-based Turner, who began is playing days at Waterhead Warriors, and Greenwood car shared and the pair developed a close and lasting friendship.
Saints’ head coach Kieron Cunningham said Greenwood’s move to the Gold Coast Titans was a “good opportunity” for the player.
He said: “We wouldn’t want to stand in the way of any player wishing to ply their trade elsewhere.
“It’s always difficult to lose a homegrown player and I will be sad to see him leave. I’ve worked hard with Joe to develop his game and help him grow as a person.
“Hopefully, one day after a successful NRL career, he will pull on the Red V again,” Cunningham added.
Greenwood played 77 games for Saints and in January was named in England’s 31-man Elite Performance Squad for this year’s Rugby League World Cup.
Taia, 32, captained the Cook Islands in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup and has also appeared at Test level for New Zealand. He previously played for Catalan Dragons and was named in the 2015 Super League Dream Team.