New twist for NRL journeyman
Twelve years since he last played in the NRL Ben Jeffries' extraordinary career in rugby league has taken a new twist after he signed to play with Intrust Super Cup premiers the Northern Pride in 2015.
Having lost Shaun Nona (Storm), Blake Leary (Sea Eagles), Davin Crampton (Titans) and coach Jason Demetriou (Cowboys) to NRL clubs in the wake of their NRL State Championship victory, the Pride have sought to shore up their depth with the signatures of three players with extensive experience in the English Super League.
Having started his career with a solitary game for St George Illawarra in 2001, Jeffries switched clubs mid-season and played 27 games with the Wests Tigers in 2001-2002 before heading to England where he became the only Australian player to date to play 10 consecutive years in the Super League.
He returned to Australia and signed a two-year deal with Kurri Kurri in the Newcastle Rugby League but retired at the end of 2013 with a year to run on his contract. A desire to join the Cessnock Goannas this year saw Jeffries embroiled in a contract dispute with the two clubs but the 34-year-old is now headed to Cairns to take on a new challenge.
Jeffries played 281 Super League games and will be joined at the Pride by Luke George and Dean McGilvray who new coach Joe O'Callaghan said will complement the locally-produced talent in North Queensland.
"We've proved over the past two years with the likes of Sam Obst, Tyrone McCarthy and Semi Tadulala, that these kinds of players can help take us to the next level," said O'Callaghan.
"They provide a great example to our younger local boys, and when Luke, Ben and Dean became available, I had no hesitation in seeing the positives for having these guys at our club.
"We're thrilled to have them on board and they will add great depth and experience to our backline next season."
Last week, O'Callaghan also announced the signings of Vaipuna Tia-Kilifi and Graham Clark.
And O'Callaghan added that he still expected to make several new signing announcements over the next seven days as he finalises his exciting 2015 Intrust Super Cup squad.
George, a 27-year-old powerful centre who can also play wing, has played 92 Super League games and scored 52 tries during stints at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, Huddersfield Giants, Hull Kingston Rovers and Bradford Bulls.
Winger McGilvray, 26, played in the UK Super League for English giants St Helens, before moving on to Salford City Reds, Leigh Centurions and Barrow Raiders.
Last season, McGilvray played a season in the Cairns District Rugby League with Atherton Roosters.