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The Pirtek Parramatta Eels have announced the signing of a third former player returning to the NRL from the English Super League with Kiwi international centre Paul Whatuira agreeing to a one-year deal, giving the club a worthy replacement for Timana Tahu.

The 29-year-old grand final winner with Penrith and Wests Tigers joins Chris Hicks who last week signed a deal with his third NRL club, and Casey McGuire. All have signed one-year deals to give the Eels valuable experience after the departure of backs Tahu, Eric Grothe (retired), Feleti Meteo, Krisnan Inu and Jonathan Wright.

Whatuira, who has played 16 Tests for New Zealand and began his career with the Auckland Warriors and played a season with the Melbourne Storm where current Eels coach Stephen Kearney was a team-mate, has had three seasons with the Huddersfield Giants in the English Super League where he scored 22 tries in 55 games and played in the 2009 Challenge Cup final at Wembley.

Hicks is 33 but his form has been outstanding with Warrington. He was the club’s top tryscorer in each of his three seasons with the Wolves, tallying 76 tries (plus 88 goals) in 81 games. He won two Challenge Cups with the side that also wears blue and gold after playing 191 NRL games, his last the 2007 grand final with Manly.

“Paul Whatuira is a proved international performer who brings class and experience to our backline and at 29 still has some good NRL football in him,” said CEO Paul Osborne.

“We expect to get good mileage out of our experienced recruits like the three players who have returned from England and Carl Webb, Chris Walker and Reni Maitua who come to the club with points to prove and undoubted ability to still make an impact in the NRL.”