SUPER LEAGUE rugby player Jordan Turner is touching down in Australia to begin a new chapter in his career at Canberra Raiders.
The 27-year-old former Waterhead Warriors utility back is fulfilling a long-held ambition to play in the NRL.
Turner, who lives in Moorside, decided the time was right for a new challenge when his contract at St Helens recently ended.
He explained: “I was more than happy at St Helens, but had to look at which way my career was heading.
“I didn’t want to play for another Super League club and had always harboured a dream to play in Australia, and I didn’t shy away from the challenge.
“When my agent made enquiries, he received an expression of interest from Canberra, and things developed from there.
“I spoke to some of the Aussie lads at St Helens and some of the players and the coach at Canberra, and they sold it to me. It was an easy decision.”
It won’t be a step into the unknown as Turner’s former Saints’ team-mate Sia Soliola is at Canberra along with England internationals Josh Hodgson and Elliott Whitehead.
Having played almost 300 professional games for Salford, Hull and St Helens, Turner hopes he can emulate Hodgson and Whitehead who have been successes in the NRL.
He said: “I am lucky I have a lot of experience and hopefully that will hold me in good stead.
“Yet sometimes young players benefit more because the NRL is a great place to develop and you have seen players taking their games to new levels after moving to Australia.”
Turner, who is leaving with partner Jodie on November 7, is joining a successful Raiders side – in the season just finished they were runners-up and reached the semi finals of the Grand Final. But he will have a long period to bed in at Canberra as the new season does not begin until March.
Turner says he leaves with some great memories of his 10 years in Super League, notably winning the Grand Final with St Helens in 2014.
He says he had “four fantastic years” with Saints and last season also passed another milestone – 100 Super League tries, something he is “massively proud of”.
But he also says he is indebted to Waterhead where he played from the age of six until 16 when he signed for Salford.
Turner said: “I will be forever grateful to them, something I think about every time I drive past the playing fields at Counthill and the Waterhead club.
“I had some great coaches who were important to my development – Lawrie Dawson, Mark Lowe, Simon Jump and Glyn Knight.
“I have massive respect for amateur coaches as they sacrifice so much of their lives to helping players develop.
“And what great legacy they have left at Waterhead as so many players have gone on to carve out great careers.”
Turner says he will miss his Saints team-mate Joe Greenwood who is from Scouthead as the pair travelled in together to training and games.
Turner said: “I have spent a lot of time travelling together on the M62 and we have become really good mates. I will miss him, but we will stay in contact.”