LEIGH Centurions have signed vastly experienced and versatile NRL forward John Asiata.

The 28-year-old, who won a grand final with North Queensland Cowboys in 2015, and has played internationals for both Samoa and Tonga.

He is seen as yet another key piece in the Leigh jigsaw as they prepare for a tilt at promotion.

Speaking from his home in Australia, Asiata said: “I just want to say how grateful I am for the opportunity.

“It’s been a long and tough couple of months, but I’m excited for this next challenge and the journey ahead with my family and to be part of this proud club.

“To the fans and the sponsors, my message is ‘Be excited!’ 2022 is going to be a great year! I know that the boys are going to be giving it their all and are working hard in training to be the best they can be, to make sure we can put in the performances week in and week out.

“I’m excited to be able to put on the jersey, to represent you all and run out to a loud, cheering crowd.”

Leigh Centurions head of rugby Chris Chester revealed that Asiata signing was a combined effort between him, head coach Adrian Lam, owner Derek Beaumont and other members of the board.

Chester said: “It is not often that such a quality player becomes available on the market.

“Adrian and I found out about John’s availability and acted quickly. There were lots of clubs in the Super League and Championship chasing his signature and so to persuade John that his future lay at Leigh Centurions was a real team effort.

“Adrian, Derek, me and our chairman have all spoken to John in the last two weeks, and what sold the club above all else was what it does in the community and how the club is so family orientated.

“Derek spoke to John at length about the vision of Leigh Centurions and we are really delighted that he has agreed to sign for us.

“John is a really good fit for the club, one of the final pieces in the jigsaw.

“He is primarily a lock but can play halfback or on the edge. He’s got versatility and he’s a good ball player so he will be an excellent link between the forwards and both edges.

“John is a really humble and nice guy and he’s big into helping others and the community, so he will love being at our club and living locally.”

Born in Penrith, New South Wales, with a Samoan father and Tongan mother, Asiata was educated at the famous Patrician Brothers’ College in Blacktown, whose alumni of famous sportsmen, particularly Rugby League players, is astonishing.

He came through the junior ranks of Parramatta Eels and then Sydney Roosters, chosen for the National Youth Competition team of the year in 2013 and followed Roosters NYC coach Paul Green when he took over at the Cowboys as head coach in 2014.

In seven seasons with the Cowboys, Asiata played 129 games and was a key member of the grand final winning team in 2015, coming off the bench in their 17-16 golden point win over Brisbane Broncos, the Broncos’ first defeat in seven grand finals. He later played for the Cowboys in their 38-4 victory over Leeds Rhinos in the World Club Championship the following February.

The Cowboys reached the grand final again in 2017 losing to Melbourne Storm, but Asiata was again one of their stand-out players throughout the campaign, ever-present in all 28 games. In 2019 he demonstrated his versatility by starting 12 games in the halves.

When Green left the Cowboys during the 2020 season, Asiata joined Brisbane Broncos for the 2021 season.