Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
It may be something of a tongue-twister now but the name of Iafeta (Feca) Palea'aesina is likely to be as familiar as that of Paul Sculthorpe in 2006.
The 23-year-old giant from New Zealand Warriors is set to take Super League by storm after joining new-look Wigan on a three-year contract.
The 6ft, 17st 4lb prop, who made his Test debut for the Kiwis against Australia in October, has been playing in Australia's crack National Rugby League (NRL) since he was 19 and has made 83 appearances for the Warriors.
Wigan coach Ian Millward said of his exciting acquisition: "This is a great signing for us. He will add size and pace to our pack for next year and he is only 23 years of age."
Initially targeted by the Wigan boss while he was still at St Helens, Palea'aesina's interest in a switch to England only became serious when Millward moved to the JJB Stadium.
The player has nothing against Saints, it is simply that Wigan were always going to be the only English club for him.
"I didn't want to go to St Helens so I was going to stay at the New Zealand Warriors but then Ian Millward made the move to Wigan," he said. "I'm glad I held off.
"As a kid growing up, I used to think Wigan were the Brisbane Broncos of the English league. They were well respected and a lot of great players came out of there, people like Denis Betts, Martin Offiah, Va'aiga Tuigamala, the list goes on.
"I'm just honoured to play for the top Super League club in the world. To get the opportunity to play for Wigan is definitely a dream come true."
Palea'aesina vividly recalls watching Betts play for his Auckland club in the late 1990s but it was a recent Warriors team-mate who helped Wigan clinch their prized capture.
"I played alongside Jerry Seuseu at the Warriors and he was another big reason I came over," he said. "He's a good friend and he had nothing but great things to say about the club.
"There are definitely big things planned for next year. They've got some good signings and I'm just happy to be a part of it."