Experienced St George Illawarra centre Euan Aitken has been confirmed as the Vodafone Warriors’ latest signing after being snared on a three-year contract until the end of the 2023 NRL season.
The 25-year-old Scotland international’s acquisition further boosts the club’s 2021 roster following the recent addition of towering Parramatta prop Kane Evans.
Aitken made his 117th first-grade appearance for the Dragons in their 28-24 win over the Brisbane Broncos last night.
“We are really excited to have a player of Euan’s capabilities joining us,” said Vodafone Warriors recruitment manager Peter O’Sullivan.
“He can play either side of the field and is in stellar form at the moment.
He can play either side of the field and is in stellar form at the momentPeter O'Sullivan Vodafone Warriors recruitment manager
“Euan was a State of Origin squad playertwo years ago and he’s back in that form at the moment. I can see his game going from strength to strength as he hits his prime age and experience levels.
“His ability to break the line with power and speed are what he’ll bring to us and he’s a robust player with big upside.”
A consistent try scorer with a total of 38 tries so far (a best of 10 in 2018), Aitken leads all centres so far this season for metres gained (1980 in 13 appearances, an average of 152 metres a game) and post contact metres (814). He ranks behind only Joseph Manu as the centre with the most tackle breaks (49) while he has been one of the most effective defensive centres in the competition this season with just 10 missed tackles so far.
“After speaking with Euan we were ultra-impressed with his professionalism and we’re looking for him to be a leader in our group moving forward,” said Vodafone Warriors CEO Cameron George.
“He’s a quality young man who fits all the criteria we are looking for in our players and he can’t wait to join us and be part of a successful Vodafone Warriors outfit.”
After playing his junior football for the Merimbula-Pambula Bulldogs and Shellharbour Sharks, Aitken excelled for the Dragons in the National Youth Competition in 2013 and 2014, representing the Australian Schoolboys on tour in New Zealand in 2013 and lining up for the Junior Kangaroos in a 14-15 loss to the Junior Kiwis in Auckland in 2014. His teammates included Clint Gutherson, Waqa Blake, Ryan Matterson, Matt Lodge, Cameron McInnes, Joe Ofahengaue, Tevita Pangai, Jackson Bird and Cameron Munster while Kodi Nikorima was in the Kiwi side alongside Te Maire Martin, Sam Lisone, Addin Fonua-Blake, Joseph Tapine, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Danny Levi and Braden Hamlin-Uele.
Aitken immediately established himself as a specialist centre on making his NRL debut for the Dragons as a 19-year-old in 2015, going on to start there in each of his 23 matches that season; he has filled that role on all but seven occasions in his six seasons at NRL level (used on the wing twice and on the interchange five times).
Another new addition to the Vodafone Warriors’ 2021 roster is Warrington’s Mate Ma’a Tonga international Ben Murdoch-Masila while back rower Jack Murchie has also been signed on an extended deal after initially joining the club only until the end of this year.
Born: June 16, 1995
Birthplace: Pambula, NSW
Junior Clubs: Merimbula-Pambula Bulldogs, Shellharbour Sharks
NRL Debut: St George Illawarra Dragons v Canberra Raiders, GIO Stadium, March 21, 2015 (Round 3)
NRL Career: St George Illawarra Dragons (2015-2020)
NRL Appearances: 117 appearances
NRL Points: 152 (38 tries)
Representative: 3 Tests for Scotland Bravehearts (2016), Prime Minister’s XIII (2015), Country New South Wales Origin (2016)