WIGAN’S prolific goalkicking winger Pat Richards is to leave the Super League leaders at the end of the season to return home to Australia, the club have announced.
The 31-year-old Ireland international, who was Super League Man of Steel in 2010, is to re-join Wests Tigers on a two-year contract.
“This has been a difficult decision to make as I have thoroughly enjoyed my eight seasons with Wigan but the time has come for my family and I to return home,” Richards said.
Richards, whose contract with Wigan expires at the end of the season, was described by chairman Ian Lenagan as one of the best overseas signings in the club’s history.
He has made over 200 appearances for the Warriors since joining them from the Tigers in 2006 and is approaching 2,300 points for the club. Richards moved up to third place in the club’s top points-scorers of all time in 2012 and added to the successes of a Grand Final win in 2010 and Challenge Cup in 2011.
Lenagan said: “We are obviously disappointed to be losing Pat but fully respect his decision and his reasons to head home.
“Pat joined us in 2006 and he has been a wonderful player for the Wigan club and he has provided us all with some terrific moments.
“He is a model professional, is highly respected by everyone and is one of the best overseas signings the club has ever made.
“We know he will do all he can for the remainder of the season to play his part in trying to bring more success to the club, he will be missed and we wish him well.’’
Wigan coach Shaun Wane said: “Pat is not only a sensational player but also a great person and we will miss his influence both on and off the field.’’