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Emerging Great Britain Fullback Richie Mathers is the latest product of the Gold Coast Titans recruitment program and will join the fledgling NRL club for its debutant season in 2007.
The announcement comes following a positive long term prognosis on Mathers? knee he injured two weeks ago in Leeds home loss to Hull FC.
The 22 year old will require a knee reconstruction to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The early indications are that he will make a full recovery and will be fully fit when the Titans begin training in November this year.
Titans Managing Director Michael Searle said, ?We have been actively negotiating with Ritchie for some months now and been watching his progress throughout the season and despite his knee injury a fortnight ago we were more than happy to bring Ritchie into our roster.?
?Our medical team will be monitoring his surgery and rehabilitation program over coming months to ensure Ritchie is ready for the 2007 Inaugural season of the Titans?
Mathers has agreed to a 2 year contract, the end result of negotiations with player manager Richard Cramer which began last November.
Mathers said, "I am absolutely delighted to be joining the new Gold Coast Titans in 2007. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to play in an environment where I can learn with and against the best players in the world in the NRL. Titan?s Head Coach John Cartwright and Searle have been looking at Mathers form since June last year and are excited by the options be brings to the team in the backs.
Cartwright said, ?He?s a naturally talented footballer who conceivably could cover a number of positions of fullback, winger, the halves or even if necessary hooker. He has risen through the ranks at Leeds and has been consistently one of their best. We are not signing and hoping he?s a great footballer, we?ve signed him as a very capable first grader, he knows his way to the try line and he will be good for us.?
Searle believes the club?s second Superleague signing will prove a valuable one. He described Mathers as a quality outside back who is versatile and plays an exciting running game.
Searle said, ?From when we first started watching Richie play it quickly became apparent that he is a solid Superleague player. He has a fantastic talent and is earmarked as Fullback for Great Britain so it?s an exciting signing for the club.
It was his enthusiasm to challenge himself in the NRL that most impressed the coaching staff and that is not unlike the same determination Brian Carney indicated to us when we signed him twelve months ago.?
We are confident in Ritchie?s ability and look forward to him coming here for the start of pre season training in November this year?
Mathers originally signed with the Rhinos from local amateur club Milford ARLFC after representing Leeds & Hunslet Schools and England Schoolboys.
In 2001 he toured New Zealand and Australia with the England Academy team, beating the Junior Kiwis 2-0 and narrowly losing the first Test to the Junior Kangaroos before losing the series the following week.
However, Mathers was one of the survivors of that side which historically beat the Junior Kangaroos in 2002, beating them 2-0, and especially for Mathers when they clinched the first ever series win over Australia at his home ground of Headingley.
At the end of the 2004 season Richard suffered a wrist injury, which meant he missed out on joining the England A team for the European Nations Championship.
Mathers is buoyed by the club?s signings so far and is looking forward to the challenge of being a part of a start up club in the National Rugby League and representing the Gold Coast community.
Mathers said, ?The signings that the club have made both on and off the field are fantastic and we are going to be a force in the NRL, that the city can be proud of. I am hugely honoured to be given an opportunity that very few British players get and I am looking forward to getting out there and being part of making the Gold Coast Titans a success".