LEIGH Leopards have signed Newcastle Knights fullback David Armstrong on a three-year contract from the start of the 2025 season.

Armstrong, aged 23, made his NRL debut for the Knights in 2024 and scored a hat-trick in their recent 28-24 victory over Gold Coast Titans in the Magic Round at Brisbane.

Head coach Adrian Lam said: “I can’t wait to unleash David Armstrong on the Super League next season.

“He’s going to really add a lot of X Factor to our team.

“He is someone we have been tracking for a while so it’s great to finally have that over the line.”

Head of Rugby Chris Chester said: “One of our main objectives right now was to add speed to our backline and David is someone we knew has that.

“He brings NRL experience and will add a lot of quality to the team.

“Davey is someone I’ve been watching for 12 months, and I’m really pleased to have his signature for the next three years. It’s a signing I’m really excited by and he’s someone who I know will be getting Leythers out of their seats.”

Leigh Leopards owner Derek Beaumont said: “This is a fantastic signing for our club and is testament of how far we have come in a short space of time, to be recognised as a solid Super League club, that an emerging NRL talent sees as the place to spend the next three years.

“I also believe this is a great signing for the Super League as a whole and shows that our competition, not just our club, is a good environment to progress as a player and enjoy your rugby.

“For a long time, Super League clubs have always been associated with taking players the NRL feel have done their bit and are being replaced by younger emerging players.

"So, to be able to sign a young player of Armstrong’s quality, despite his club wanting to retain him and believing they had, as well as an offer from another NRL club, is something we should be proud of as a competition.

"Hopefully this can continue throughout other clubs.

“Yes, we may lose players to the NRL and indeed players of Armstrong’s quality may return there in time but attracting quality at a young age is a big step in the right direction.

“I look forward to seeing him being part of “the roar” next season but until then I am looking forward to enjoying seeing the continuing efforts of this fantastic group of people, we currently have who showed without doubt in Perpignan just what commitment to this club they have.”

Born in Moree, northern New South Wales, Armstrong moved to Queensland with his parents and finished his schooling at Toowoomba Grammar School.

He scored a hat-trick in Goondiwindi Boars’ 2021 grand final win over Highfields in the 2021 Toowoomba Rugby League and fully linked up with the Knights in 2022, playing in their Jersey Flegg and NSW Cup teams.

This year he joined the Knights’ 30-man NRL squad and made his first team debut in Round 8, coming in for injured captain Kalyn Ponga and scoring his side’s opening try in their 18-14 win against Dolphins at Suncorp Stadium.

He was also on the scoresheet in the victory over Wests Tigers before really coming into focus with that outstanding hat-trick as Knights came back from 24-10 down to win 28-24 against the Titans.

Armstrong has the outstanding strike-rate of 23 tries in 28 games in the NSW Cup over the past three seasons.