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Vea fits the bill - but Saints' recruitment is not done yet
TONGAN international second rower Atelea Vea will be the man charged with filling the boots of Sia Soilola for the next two seasons.
And coach Nathan Brown believes his robust style and good footwork can bring a lot to Saints’ play from next season.
The 27-year-old, who impressed for London Broncos at Langtree Park earlier this season, has signed for 2015 and 2016 and has an option for the following season.
Brown said: “I have done a lot of work on him and watched him play a lot of games leading up to us and after us, he was also coached by some friends of mine back home so comes highly recommended.
“He is a player who is best summed up as being a little bit like Willie Manu.
“He is robust, he plays out wide and uses his feet, beat people and promote the ball.
“We are hopeful we have got a player there who can bring a lot to the table.”
The Sydney-born powerhouse made his first-grade debut for Cronulla in 2009, before moving to Melbourne Storm in 2011 and St George-Illawarra a year later.
Vea, whose services are understood to have been in demand elsewhere, was delighted to sign on the dotted line at Saints “I had offers from many different clubs but once I spoke to Mike Rush and Nathan Brown, and had the chance to view Langtree Langtree Park and the training facilities, I felt it was the right fit for me.
“Saints have a nice culture and environment and that attracted me to sign,” Vea said.
“I played against Saints not too long ago and liked the feeling of the place even though we lost. The crowd were very vocal and it felt like somewhere I would like to be.
“I’m looking forward to playing in front of those fans and getting them on my side.
“I want to come there, play my own game and hopefully the fans will embrace me.”
The 6ft, 16 stone departs London Broncos with a glowing endorsement from head coach Joey Grima.
“We're disappointed to be losing a player of Tils' ability and professionalism, I would never stop anyone wanting to play Super League, given where we are at the moment,” Grima said.
That is unlikely to be the end of Saints’ recruitment although coach Brown said that they are looking at what will benefit the team best.
Although front rower Anthony Laffranchi will head back to Australia at the end of the season, this won’t automatically mean that Saints will be looking for an overseas prop.
“When fully fit we have Kyle, Mose, Alex, Louie, Greg Richards is coming through, Luke Thompson is playing 13 for us too and Richie Beaumont has started playing now.
“We are not unhealthy in the middle. We are in discussion where our next moves should lie in terms of recruitment.
“We are definitely still looking but it is working out what will be the best balance for our squad and how certain people perform in the next three or four weeks may play a part in that,” Brown said.