The Vodafone Warriors have beaten rival clubs to snare powerhouse Tonga international Ben Murdoch-Masila on a three-year contract from the 2021 NRL season.
The 29-year-old Aucklander will return home from England where he is in the final season of his three-year Super League deal with the Warrington Wolves.
The destructive Murdoch-Masila was exceptional in Tonga’s historic 16-12 victory over the Kangaroos in last year’s Oceania Cup Test at Eden Park and, in the last two seasons, has made back-to-back appearances in the Challenge Cup final as well as playing in the 2018 Super League grand final.
“Ben is right up among the best forwards in the game right now and he had plenty of clubs trying to sign him,” said Vodafone Warriors recruitment manager Peter O’Sullivan.
“It’s a huge signing for us, one we couldn’t be happier with.
“Ben always had enormous potential and has now matured into a total professional. He’ll be a real asset to have back in the NRL.”
Murdoch-Masila is a product of the Wests Tigers club’s rugby league nursery Keebra Park State High School.
An Otahuhu junior, he made his NRL debut with the Tigers in 2010 and went on to play 52 NRL games for the club before moving to Penrith. A two-year stint there produced only six games before he left to join the Super League.
There he made an instant impact with the Salford Red Devils scoring 22 tries in 60 matches across the 2016 and 2017 seasons before joining Warrington in 2018. He scored a try in Warrington’s 2018 Challenge Cup final loss to Les Catalans and also scored in their win over St Helens last year.
Murdoch-Masila said returning to the NRL had always been a possibility.
"I've always left the door open for the opportunity of an NRL comeback," he said on Warrington's website.
"My daughter has spent her life here and all she knows is the Wire (Warrington Wolves). When this opportunity came around I couldn't say no to taking her home to meet mine and Roxy's families.
"I want to thank all at the club for what they have done for not only me but for my wife and daughter too. They've gone above and beyond for us and after a tough first two seasons for me, and a not so good start, I will do whatever it takes to help repay what the Wire has done for me and do my best for the remainder of the year. To be remembered as the Tongan beast."
Murdoch-Masila started the 2020 Super League season memorably when he ran over Wigan’s George Burgess to score a try.
After making his Test debut for Tonga in 2013, Murdoch-Masila was a standout as he helped the island nation to the 2017 Rugby League World Cup semi-finals, scoring a try in the shock win over the Kiwis in Hamilton in the pool stages.
Date of Birth: February 7, 1991
Birthplace: Auckland, NZ
Junior Club: Otahuhu Leopards (Auckland)
Position: Second Row/Prop
Previous Clubs: Wests Tigers (2010-2013), Penrith Panthers (2014-2015), Salford Red Devils (2016-2017), Warrington Wolves (2018-2020)
Rep Honours: 9 Tests for Tonga (2013-2019), Junior Kiwis (2011)
NRL Debut: Wests Tigers v Sydney Roosters, Sydney Football Stadium (finals), September 11, 2010
NRL Career: 58 appearances (2010-2015)
Wests Tigers: 52 appearances (2010-2013)
Penrith Panthers: 6 appearances (2014)
NRL Points: 28 (7 tries)
Super League Career: 120 (2016-2020)
Salford Red Devils: 60 appearances (2016-2017)
Warrington Wolves: 60 appearances (2018-2020)
Super League Points: 164 (41 tries)