Leeds Rhinos have announced the signing of Matt Prior, while Trent Merrin will now leave the club.

Prior arrives at Headingley from NRL side Cronulla Sharks and has played over 250 first grade games during his career.

The 32-year-old has also won the NRL Grand Final twice in his career with the Sharks in 2016 and St George Illawarra in 2010. He has signed a two-year contract.

He will team up with his former Cronulla team mate Ava Seumanufagai at the Rhinos after the front rower moved to Emerald Headingley last summer and will join the club subject to completing a medical.

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Leeds have also confirmed that Australian international Merrin has been allowed to leave the club on compassionate grounds to return home to Australia. He has since signed for his former club St George Illawarra.

Commenting on the signing Director of Rugby Kevin Sinfield said, “We are delighted to have secured a player of Matt’s undeniable experience on a two-year contract. He is someone we have looked at for a while and he will be an uncompromising addition to our squad.

“He has been part of two NRL Grand Final winning sides and was part of the New South Wales State of Origin squad in 2018. Having spoken to him over recent weeks, I know how much he is looking forward to joining the club and the new challenge of playing in the Betfred Super League.

“It is disappointing to lose Trent but we fully understand his reasons for returning home. He leaves with our best wishes for him and Jess and their new family.”

Prior, who won the World Club Challenge with the Dragons in 2011 added, “I know that Leeds Rhinos have a fantastic history but have had some tough times in recent years. Hopefully I can play my part in lifting the clubs fortunes and get us back to challenging for silverware again. I know Ava Seumanufagai and Adam Cuthbertson well so it will be good to catch up with those guys and I am sure everyone will make me feel at home.

“I nearly signed for the Rhinos a couple of years ago but we didn’t get the deal done so this is something I have always had in my mind.

“It is an exciting time to be moving to Super League with players like Sonny Bill Williams, Gareth Widdop and George Burgess coming into an unforgiving competition and I can’t wait to get involved with the Rhinos boys in training,”

Leeds Rhinos Head coach Richard Agar said, “On behalf of everyone at the Rhinos, we would like to wish Trent and his partner Jess all the best for their future back in Australia. I know this is something that Trent has tried hard to resolve but in the end his family comes first and he will leave with our best wishes.

“We were already in the process of signing Matt and I was looking forward to seeing him lining up alongside Trent but unfortunately that will not be possible now.

“However, Kevin Sinfield is working hard behind the scenes to complete our squad. Unlike most of our rivals, we still have flexibility to bring in players, which we did successfully with Rhyse Martin and Ava Seumanufagai last season, and the market is still very much open in terms of players availability both here and in the NRL if the right player becomes available.”