NRL: Warriors sign Storm centre

By Steve Deane

Melbourne Storm back Dane Nielsen will bolster the Warriors' stocks at centre next season. Photo / Getty Images
Melbourne Storm back Dane Nielsen will bolster the Warriors' stocks at centre next season. Photo / Getty Images

The Warriors' long search for a top centre has finally born fruit, with Queensland Origin representative Dane Nielsen to join the club on a three-year deal next season.

The 26-year-old has been a regular in an undefeated Storm side this season. He scored two tries against the Warriors when the clubs met a fortnight ago.

Of Torres Strait Islands ancestry, Nielsen hails from Mackay, the same town as new Kiwis fullback Josh Hoffman. He made his NRL debut for Cronulla against Manly in 2007 - his lone match for the Sydney club before switching to Melbourne the following season. In total, he has played 65 matches, scoring 22 tries.

Last season, he played the first two matches of the State of Origin series for Queensland before making way for Broncos star Justin Hodges in game three. While not quite in the superstar bracket, Nielsen looks a good fit for a Warriors club that has struggled for dependable centre options since the departure of Brent Tate at the end of the 2010 season.

Nielsen joins Thomas Leuluai as the club's second major signing for next season.

"He'll bring a lot to the Warriors through his experience with such a strong club, like the Storm, and through playing Origin football," recruitment and development manager Dean Bell said.

"It's a huge positive for us to secure a ranking Origin player and getting one who has played with three of the best players in the game - Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith - as well as learning so much through a coach of Craig Bellamy's ability."

Nielsen said the key appeal about signing for the Warriors was the depth of young talent at the club and the tough brand of football the side plays. "One of the things I really like is that there are so many good young players coming through the club," he said.

"I also like the way the Warriors play. They always give the Storm a tough time whether we play them here or in Auckland.

"We've had some great games between the two clubs."

Nielsen said he wasn't bothered at all about moving out of Australia.

"I've been living away from home since I was 18 or 19. I've been in Sydney and now Melbourne so it's not an issue for me at all. I've got this year to worry about first but then I'll be looking forward to coming to a new city and a new club and doing all I can to help on the field and off it."

Warriors fans will get a look at Nielsen when he comes to Auckland for the round 13 rematch against the Storm on June 3.

The club is also on the verge of re-signing veteran back Jerome Ropati, with an announcement on a contract extension expected this week.

DANE NIELSEN

* Date of Birth: June 10, 1985.
* Birthplace: Mackay, Queensland.
* Junior Club: Norths Devils.
* Position: Centre/Wing.
* Height: 188cm.
* Weight: 97kg.
* Other Teams: Melbourne Storm (2008-2012), Cronulla Sharks (2007).
* Rep Honours: Two matches for Queensland 2011.
* NRL Debut: Cronulla v Manly, Toyota Park, July 20, 2007.
* NRL Career: 65 appearances, 2007-2012.
* NRL Points: 88 (22 tries).

- NZ Herald

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