Broncos to unveil power-packed Pom
Three years after first trying to lure him to our shores, the Brisbane Broncos will on Thursday unveil the Englishman they believe will help dispel the notion they have an under-sized forward pack for the 2018 season.
Andre Savelio will be welcomed by some English-like conditions when he undertakes his first session of physical testing on Thursday morning and comes to Brisbane after a strong season for a Warrington team that finished mid-table in the Super League.
In fact, Warrington's plight could have been far worse and included relegation had Savelio not come off the bench to score two tries in their crucial Super 8s clash to finish top of the qualifiers and maintain Wolves' place in the Super League.
With uncles, cousins and grandparents all living in Brisbane, Savelio already has strong connections to the area and he could have been out here much earlier had the Broncos got their way.
Identified as the type of hard-running back-rower the club was otherwise lacking in the juniors coming through the ranks, Savelio was first approached in 2014 about a move to the NRL to play under-20s in 2015 before English powerhouse St Helens dangled a four-year carrot in front of him.
Knowing he wanted to test himself on Australian soil Savelio declined to take up that long-term contract and instead signed for a further two seasons, forced to spend part of the 2016 season on loan to Castleford before joining Warrington on a one-year deal this year.
Given the loss of Adam Blair, Herman Ese'ese and Francis Molo the Broncos were desperate to add some bulk to their pack and the 110-kilogram, 188-centimetre Savelio fit the bill perfectly.
His ability to break tackles on the edge and regularly score tries saw him compared previously in style to Sonny Bill Williams and the 22-year-old said there was only ever one NRL team he wanted to play for.
"I remember my dad went away and a Brisbane shirt was the first one he brought back, it's the first jersey I remember having," Savelio told The Sun earlier this year.
"From that, I took a liking to them. Even though he was a half and I'm a forward, Darren Lockyer was my favourite player.
"I guess I was in a bit of awe about the way he went about his business. I try to pass the ball a bit but he was a different kind of passer!"
Despite their disappointment of not bringing him into their system three years ago the Broncos now see the benefits they will reap from his Super League experience that has seen him play 66 games for St Helens, Castleford and Warrington over the past four seasons.
And given time to acclimatise to the Queensland heat and the intensity of the NRL Broncos officials are confident he will adjust quickly enough to play a role at some stage in 2018.
It won't be Savelio's first taste of footy in Australia having toured with the St Helens Academy team that completed an undefeated four-game tour with a team that included the likes of England international Mark Percival and Super League regular Adam Swift.