Sean Long swaps codes to join Preston Grasshoppers

Sean Long
Sean Long only retired from playing rugby league in August

Preston Grasshoppers have signed former St Helens and Great Britain rugby league international Sean Long.

The 35-year-old retired from playing in August after spending two seasons at Hull FC and has since taken up a coaching role with Salford City Reds.

But he told Grasshoppers' website: "It's been an ambition of mine to play union and now seemed the right time."

Long is due to make his Preston debut in National League Two North on 19 November against Hull Ionians.

But his quick return to playing came as a surprise to Salford football director Steve Simms.

"We're in discussions with Sean at the moment," said Simms. "We didn't know about it until yesterday. I think he just wants to have a bit of fun."

Wigan-born half-back Long, who played for his home town club before making his name with St Helens, twice clocked the most number of points scored in a Super League season, 284 in 1999 and 352 in 2000.

And Preston Grasshoppers chairman of rugby Michael Bailey has welcomed his arrival.

"Sean is undoubtedly a legend in rugby league and widely respected by fans of the union code," said Bailey.

"To have a player of his calibre in the team will bring a new-found confidence to our players and bring additional skills and abilities to the team.

"Sean will be playing home and away games, which will help other clubs in our league since the Rugby Football Union funding has been dented.

"We're delighted he's signed for us and welcome him to the Hoppers' fold."

Long, who also won six caps for England to add to his 15 Great Britain appearances, joins the list of former England internationals connected with Preston.

"Wade Dooley, Will Greenwood and Steve Borthwick are just a few of the players that have graced the first-team pitch," added Long. "And I'll be delighted to become someone who has joined this impressive list.

"Preston Grasshoppers have a great reputation as a club and a team that produces quality players."