Bottom-of-the-table Widnes have signed former Wigan centre Anthony Gelling on a two-year contract from New Zealand Warriors.
The 27-year-old Gelling, who was a Grand Final and World Club Challenge winner in his six seasons in Super League with Wigan, will link up with the Vikings for the start of the 2019 season.
Gelling, a Cook Island international, was released by Wigan at the end of last season for personal reasons and subsequently signed a 12-month deal with the Warriors.
It is a bold move by Widnes, who sacked coach Denis Betts in June, as they sit bottom of the table and must battle their way through the Super 8s Qualifiers to avoid relegation to the Championship.
Widnes’ interim head coach Francis Cummins said: “Anthony is a tremendous signing for the club.
“Anthony has been one of our top targets, as we have planned for next season and (chief executive) James Rule has been in regular conversation with him over the past couple of months to help make this deal happen.
“Anthony has an ‘X Factor’ about him, with the ability to produce something out of nothing in a way that few others in the modern game can replicate.
“Players of his quality are few and far between, and we are excited that he will be representing our club.
“Clearly Widnes Vikings have experienced challenges this season, but we are planning for a brighter future.
“This team has genuine potential for the seasons ahead and, having had opportunity to sign for several other leading clubs, it is satisfying to know that Anthony strongly believes in what we are building here.
“A signing like this sends a message out on many levels and tells everybody that we’re not willing to accept the current situation we’re in.”
Gelling scored 52 tries in 115 appearances for Wigan from 2012-17 and was a tryscorer for New Zealand Warriors against Cronulla at the weekend.
“I’m delighted to be joining Widnes Vikings,” he said. “Looking at the talent at the club, their players who have re-signed and the young lads who are coming through, I believe that the Vikings have real potential for the seasons ahead.
“Before signing this deal, I spoke in length to James Rule. He shared the club’s vision for the coming seasons and I’m very excited to have the opportunity to be part of this.
“Widnes Vikings have had a tough season this year but I know that we can turn this around. I am looking forward to linking up with the boys next year in 2019 and to making a difference to the side.”