Titans confirm Leilani Latu signing
The Gold Coast Titans have confirmed the signing of Penrith Panthers forward Leilani Latu on a three-year deal, effective immediately.
Latu has been granted a release from the final three years of his contract with the Panthers to link up with Garth Brennan and the Titans.
The Indigenous All Stars representative was a member of Brennan's successful 2014 Intrust Super Premiership NSW team when both men were at the Panthers.
"Leilani is a player with a great attitude and is a great clubman," Brennan said.
"He's had three strong years in the NRL and after discussing the prospect of him coming to the club, I know he's extremely excited about the opportunity.
"He'll fit into our squad nicely and I'm sure he'll form a major part of our forward pack for many years to come."
The 24-year-old missed the final stages of the 2017 season with a broken jaw and was forced to sit out Tonga's journey in the Rugby League World Cup after having made his international debut in the Pacific Test clash with Fiji in May.
"I'm really looking forward to getting up to the Gold Coast," Latu said.
"Of course it'll be good to link-up with Garth again. I enjoyed being coached by him before and he always challenges me which is something I'm looking forward to again.
"I had a good look at the roster before making my final decision and I'm excited by what I've seen."
The addition of Latu is a relief for the squad after veteran forward Brenton Lawrence announced his retirement effectively immediately on Wednesday.
Former Titans forwards Leivaha Pulu and Agnatius Paasi have also departed the club after signing contracts with the Warriors, while the exits of back-rower Chris McQueen (Wests Tigers) and prop Paterika Vaivai (Leigh Centurions) had left the club searching for replacements in the forwards.
Latu's release is likely to free up salary cap space for the Panthers as they continue to get a deal over the line to land them Australian World Cup squad member James Maloney.
"Leilani came to Panthers several years ago looking for an opportunity," Panthers executive general manager Phil Gould said.
"Since that time he has worked extremely hard to become a representative class front row forward.
"He has been tremendous for our club and his release from Panthers is purely a salary cap management decision.
"He is a great acquisition for his new club and we wish him well in the future."