Melbourne Storm and Queensland Origin centre Dane Nielsen will join the Vodafone Warriors on a three-year contract after the 2012 NRL season.
The Mackay-born 26-year-old excelled in 2011 when he twice played for the Maroons and has again been a key contributor for the unbeaten Storm this year, notably scoring a double in their 32-14 Anzac Day win over the Vodafone Warriors at AAMI Park.
Confirming Nielsen’s signing today, Vodafone Warriors recruitment and development manager Dean Bell said the club was excited to secure a centre of such quality from the NRL’s leading side.
“He’ll bring a lot to the Vodafone Warriors through his experience with such a strong club like the Storm and through playing Origin football,” he said.
“It’s a huge positive for us to secure a ranking Origin player and getting one who has played with three of the best players in the game – Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith – as well as learning so much through a coach of Craig Bellamy’s ability.”
A Torres Strait Islander, Nielsen said the key appeal about signing for the Vodafone Warriors was the depth of young talent at the club and the tough brand of football the side plays.
“One of the things I really like is that there are so many good young players coming through the club,” he said from Melbourne today.
“I also like the way the Warriors play. They always give the Storm a tough time whether we play them here or in Auckland. We’ve had some great games between the two clubs “
Nielsen said he wasn’t bothered at all about moving out of Australia.
“I’ve been living away from home since I was 18 or 19. I’ve been in Sydney and now Melbourne so it’s not an issue for me at all,” he said.
“I’ve got this year to worry about first but then I’ll be looking forward to coming to a new city and a new club and doing all I can to help on the field and off it.”
Ironically Nielsen will get an early taste of Vodafone Warriors members and fans when he comes to his future home base within a matter of weeks of signing; the Storm play their 13th-round clash against the Vodafone Warriors at Mount Smart Stadium on June 03.
Nielsen made his NRL debut with the Cronulla Sharks in 2007 before joining Melbourne in 2008. He played on the wing for the Storm in the 2009 grand final against Parramatta.
Last year he featured 24 times for the Storm as they won the minor premiership before being beaten by the Vodafone Warriors in the preliminary final.
Last night Nielsen made his eighth appearance of the 2012 campaign in Melbourne’s 44-10 win against Penrith, its ninth straight win of the year.
While Nielsen has been signed the Vodafone Warriors are also looking to retain the club’s longest-serving current player Jerome Ropati. Discussions are expected to be concluded soon.
Date of Birth: June 10, 1985
Birthplace: Mackay, Queensland
Junior Club: Norths Devils
Other Teams: Melbourne Storm (2008-2012), Cronulla Sharks (2007)
Rep Honours: Two matches for Queensland 2011
NRL Debut: Cronulla v Manly, Toyota Park, July 20, 2007 (Round 19)
NRL Career: 65 appearances, 2007-2012
NRL Points: 88 (22 tries)