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Rhinos Sign a Champion Aussie
Posted by southstander on November 16 2005 - 13:09:16

O'Neill's the Man

Hetherington's slight of hand has, once again, sprung a surprise on the Headingley faithful.

As we were watching and waiting for news of the signature of St. George second Rower Lance Thompson, our Chief Executive went on a raid of newly crowned Australian Champions Wests Tigers to sign their skipper Mark O'Neill.

Another second rower added to the Rhinos squad for 2006, but is that a bad thing?

O'Neill is six foot two inches and tips the scales at just under 16 stones, making him a pretty sizeable second row forward. He made his debut, for Balmain in August 1994 and has had just over ten years at the top of the game. After five years at Balmain, Mark moved to Wests Tigers where he made 121 appearances and scored eleven tries. A career record of 223 appearances and twenty-one tries indicates that he makes it through most seasons without injury.

Little know to supporters of the nothern hemisphere game, due to no exposure at representative level, he has nevertheless earned the respect of colleagues and club as he was made captain last season. A mature, well balanced, and thorough professional are the watchwords from his Curriculum Vitae.

In the mold of previous Rhinos favourites like Dave Furner and Chris McKenna, O'Neill is likely to earn the appreciation of the SouthStanders with workmanlike performances. He won't 'pull up any trees', but then we've got an embarrassment of playmakers to do that already.

There are two 'worrying' aspects to the signing, which overall should be applauded. The first is the twelve month contract, which could indicate that the Rhinos management are not convinced he'll fit in, he's already got himself a contract for 2007 (Gold Coast), or that we already have a better option lined up for 2007.

Secondly, he's another second rower to join the likes of; Lauiti'iti, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Walker, Ellis, Poching, and Golden. Whereas, what we really seem to need is a dedicated prop to join; Ward, Bailey, Feather and Scruton.

All in all Mark looks a good signing and I'll look forward to his debut on boxing day. I still think we need a couple more pieces to complete the jigsaw.

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