North Queensland Cowboys club have signed up another NZ Bartercard Cup player, Waicoa Bay Stallions halfback Hayden Karena.
Karena, 22, told his teammates at training this week in Huntly that he had agreed to terms for the rest of the season with the 11th-placed NRL side, which he joins next week in Townsville.
Karena is on a trial deal training with the Cowboys and playing for their feeder club the Central Comets.
Scouts had been interested in the former New Zealand under-18 representative since last year's sevens tournament and his manager Frank Endacott helped arrange a deal this week.
"I wouldn't have minded going to the Warriors but you've got to take the opportunity when it comes. If I don't go I might not get another chance," Karena said.
His only regret was leaving the Stallions, who are leading the Bartercard Cup competition by one point. He was enjoying playing under coaches Tawera Nikau and Len Reid.
Reid was philosophical about the news, which could have a big bearing on the rest of the season after a bright start to the national competition by the Stallions.
"We're quite chuffed. It's disappointing to see him go but good on the bloke," Reid said.
"It means we're doing our job for the franchise and the region. After just four rounds of the Bartercard we've got someone into the NRL," he said.
The slight but tough playmaker will be a big loss to the combined side representing Waikato, Coastline and Bay of Plenty district leagues.Like