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Eels sign Matagi on two-year NRL deal

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 10/11/2016 Matt Encarnacion

Parramatta have moved quickly to cover the loss of the retired Danny Wicks by announcing the signing of another former bad boy in Suaia Matagi.

The Eels confirmed the 28-year-old had been given a two-year deal, filling the sizeable hole vacated by the surprise retirement of Wicks earlier this week.

Matagi's arrival comes almost 10 years after being sentenced to three years' jail for a flurry of assault charges during his wild days as a teenager in New Zealand.

However, a reformed Matagi returned to the game in 2008, eventually making his NRL debut with the Warriors five years later and had since had stints at the Sydney Roosters and Penrith.

Wicks trudged a similar path back to the NRL after being sentenced to 18 months' jail for possession and supply of prohibited drugs.

He played 35 games across two seasons at the Eels before opting to move back to Yamba.

Eels coach Brad Arthur was excited to add a player of Matagi's calibre to a roster that would be strengthened by his size and experience.

He played one Test in 2014 for the Kiwis.

"Suaia's journey to the NRL is a testament of hard work and dedication and I am delighted that we have been able to secure him for the next two years," Arthur said on Thursday.

"He played 23 games last year and showed the ability to mix it with the very best in the competition so I am sure our members and fans are pleased that he will be part of the team in 2017.

"Already in pre-season, Suaia has given us a glimpse of the contribution he can make to the team as we prepare for next year."

The announcement comes as the club continues to be linked with former Canterbury second-rower and another ex-Penrith player, Frank Pritchard.

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