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Undoubtedly the biggest name in rugby league to have Maltese ancestry - Michael Vella, has signed a three-year-deal with the UK Super League?s newest team, Hull Kingston Rovers.
Rovers? Chief Executive Paul Lakin today said ?We are absolutely delighted to sign a player of the calibre of Mick?s undoubted quality. At the age 28 he is in his prime as a prop and is highly regarded as one of the top front row forwards in the NRL?
?Mick had a year of his contract to run at Parramatta and it is a sign of the ambition of Hull KR that we have brought him over here? said the chief executive.
Weighing in at just over 16 stones and standing at six foot three, Vella has been playing rugby league since he was seven years of age, having also represented NSW in State of Origin.
Michael is excited about the move, saying ?I am really excited about coming over to England and playing for a club like Hull KR. They have so much history and tradition...?
Vella will begin his Rovers career as a quota player, but that will change as soon as he gets his Maltese passport, which would in turn allow the Robins to sign another quota player.
Unfortunately, the Maltese aren't known for dealing with such matters in a short space of time.
?I sent off my application about five or six months ago. It's not going too quickly at the moment, and it could take between six months and two years? said Vella.
?As soon as I get it, I will no longer be a quota player. That will be good for the club (Hull KR) in that they will be able to sign another quota player. They are in the process of changing the rules in Malta?
Vella has twice been named the Parramatta Eels Clubman of the Year and has been nominated for Life Membership of the Parramatta District Rugby League Club at December's Annual General Meeting.
For more information, visit www.malteserugbyleague.com