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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 November 2007, 12:31 GMT
Mathers returns to UK with Wigan
Richie Mathers
Mathers found it difficult to settle in Australia
Former Leeds star Richie Mathers has signed for Wigan after being released from the final year of his contract with Australian side Gold Coast Titans.

The 24-year-old, who has agreed a three-year deal, becomes the first Wigan signing since new owner Ian Lenagan took over from Dave Whelan.

"It's a fantastic chance for me to join the greatest name in rugby league," said Mathers.

A major knee injury restricted him to just five appearances for the Titans.

606: DEBATE

Mathers is currently recovering from knee reconstruction surgery and the contract acknowledges the issue, with the second and third years of the deal subject to him playing a minimum number of games next season.

"This signing is our first and involves a young British player with great attitude who wants to play for Wigan and has that rare combination of youth, undoubted talent and big-game experience," said Lenagan.

"The risk of signing a player recovering from injury has been minimised by detailed medical examinations and there are cost benefits to the club.

My experiences in the NRL have improved me as a player and I'm well on the way to full fitness

Richie Mathers

"We look forward to Richard Mathers delivering skill, quality of performance and value over a long career with Wigan."

Wigan coach Brian Noble added: "We are thrilled to get hold of a player of Richard's ability. He is an outstanding acquisition and an outstanding individual.

"I have known Richie since the age of 15 and have seen him progress through the ranks.

"He has played in Grand Finals and in the NRL. He is used to pressure football and will be a tremendous asset for the Wigan club."

Mathers joined the Titans in November 2006 on a two-year contract but injured his right knee early on in his career in Australia.

"I have had a great time in Australia and thank everyone at the club for the way they have looked after me on and off the field," he said.

"My experiences in the NRL have improved me as a player and I'm well on the way to full fitness."

As well as struggling to deal with such a serious injury, Mathers suffered from homesickness while on the Gold Coast - and he was also the only British player in Australia's top flight.

Titans chief executive Michael Searle said: "We always knew he was homesick but we were hoping he'd get through it. Obviously it's been too taxing on his partner.

"He'll be sorely missed. He's been an important part of the playing group and he's really well liked by the boys."

SEE ALSO
Lenagan seals takeover of Wigan
24 Oct 07 |  Rugby League
Season over for injured Mathers
18 Jun 07 |  Rugby League


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