NRL wooden spooners Parramatta have signed Manly grand final prop David Gower on a one-year deal.
Gower, 28, turned down a two-year offer in England to join the Eels and their new coach Brad Arthur, the former Manly assistant.
While he scored a grand final berth against the Sydney Roosters after Richie Fa’aoso suffered a broken neck in the preliminary final against South Sydney, Gower was not a regular starter for the Sea Eagles, playing 11 games in 2013.
“I had a few options overseas but this came up and I am taking it as a real opportunity,” said Gower, who has also had stints at Wests Tigers, St George Illawarra and Salford in England.
“My wife and I grew up out west so moving back is not too different for me.”
Competition for spots in the Eels front row is likely to be fierce with Gower joining Tim Mannah, Fuifui Moimoi, Mitchell Allgood, Darcy Lussick and new signing, English international Lee Mossop.
“My major goal is to secure a spot in the 17, but that will not be a walk in the park.
“There is some great competition for spots at the Eels right now and I am going to have to prove myself.
“Obviously I worked with Brad (Arthur) at Manly and am really looking forward to reuniting with him at Parramatta.
“I got on well with him because he was always straight up and honest and took time to show me the little things I could do to improve my game.”
South Sydney, meanwhile, have moved to shore up their forward depth by signing former Canberra back-rower Joe Picker for the 2014 season.
The move comes two weeks after Jeff Lima being granted leave from the final year of his contract with the Rabbitohs to take up a three-year deal with Super League side Catalans.
Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire said that the 25-year-old Picker, a veteran of 110 NRL games, would be an important addition to his side.
“I was lucky enough to coach Joe as a junior at the Raiders and I’ve seen first-hand the dedication he has towards his football,” Maguire said in a statement.
“I’m looking forward to seeing him bring that competitive edge and the experience he’s gained.
“He’s a great person and I’m looking forward to him helping us grow the culture here at Souths.”