Blacklock signs with Lions for league showdown

FORMER Kangaroo and St George Illawarra Dragons star Nathan Blacklock could make a shock return to the rugby league field for West Lions in Saturday's Sportsman's Warehouse Northern Division Pre-Season Final at Scully Park.

Blacklock came out of retirement yesterday to sign on with West Lions for a season in Group 4.

And West club president, Dave Dundas, said Blacklock would almost certainly play in Saturday night's blockbuster against reigning pre-season champions North Tamworth.

"We've already spoken with Ross (Hamilton, Group 4 secretary) and sent a signed clearance form to Hull," Dundas said.

"Ross said international clearances are a 24-hour turnaround. So he should be right for Saturday."

Dundas said it was an exciting coup for his club and Group 4 and hoped it would have an effect similar to Jamie Lyon's return to Wee Waa three seasons ago.

"Nathan was approached by numerous clubs throughout Australia after returning home to Tingha last year after playing for Hull RLFC in the English Super League.

"Nathan has indicated to the Lions that he will be at training Thursday night and if the necessary paperwork from overseas is through in time (which is expected) he will be playing in Saturday night's final of the Sportsman's Warehouse Pre-Season final at Scully Park.

"He will be a tremendous asset to the Lions and rugby league in general; he is very approachable, down to earth and a real character.

"Nathan said he was going to retire from the game, but after a long off-season after returning from England, and a better-than-expected recovery from knee problems, he has got itchy feet again and is keen to play at least one more season. And we were prepared to scratch those itchy feet.

"Nathan is very excited about the youth in the Lions squad, having seen news highlights of the Lions in 2006 and 2007, and the number of young Aboriginal players who he will try to assist in their future development and as ambassadors for the game. He also relishes the chance to play with an old hometown friend in Will Jerrard."

Jerrard was instrumental in enticing Blacklock to West Lions where their try-scoring talents will give the side plenty of firepower.

He is the only player to have scored 20 or more tries in four consecutive seasons of the NRL and holds the St George club tryscoring record of 27 in one season (2001).

He scored 35 tries with Hull in less than two seasons of the English Super League.