St Helens sign Kiwi half-back Hohaia

Lance Hohaia
Lance Hohaia has won 22 caps in eight years for New Zealand

St Helens have pulled off a major signing for next season by luring New Zealand international Lance Hohaia to Merseyside on a four-year contract.

The 28-year-old New Zealand Warriors star played at full-back when he helped his country win the World Cup in 2008.

But Saints have signed him to play at half-back to replace Bath-bound rugby union convert Kyle Eastmond.

"We aim to utilise him as a half-back, which is his preferred position," said Saints coach Royce Simmons.

"But he does have tremendous utility value. He has played most of his recent rugby at full-back.

"We have some tremendous young talent in our backs and Lance's experience and success at the highest levels will be of great benefit in helping to develop their games also."

The Waikato-born player is in his 10th season with the Warriors, having made his NRL debut in 2002.

"I'm happy to have my future secured for the next four years," Hohaia told BBC Radio Merseyside. "My partner and I are really excited to come to St Helens and represent the club.

"I had other offers from other clubs, but not so much from Super League.

"This all came about pretty quickly. My manager has been working with St Helens with other players and he understood they were looking for a half-back.

"I've always considered myself to play well in that position and I haven't had the opportunity to do that NRL level.

"So to be able to get a chance to play for a club like St Helens and have a crack at being the starting half-back is pretty exciting for me."

Saints chairman Eamonn McManus added: "Lance is a genuine marquee signing for us and will add experience and versatility to our backs.

"The club will have a fantastic new stadium next season and we aim to have a team which can grace it."