Rona returning to Sydney to join Waratahs

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Curtis Rona is returning to Sydney and sticking with rugby, signing with the Waratahs and Australian rugby until 2019.

It is a somewhat surprising move by the 25-year-old, who has been linked with a return to NRL in recent months, after the axing of the Force.

The lure of a Rugby World Cup chance has proven stronger than that of an NRL switch, though, with Rona committing to a deal that will take him through to the Japan tournament.

Rona made an immediate mark on Super Rugby in his debut season, after 57 NRL games and 41 tries with the Canterbury Bulldogs and North Queensland Cowboys, earning a Wallabies call-up for the Sydney Bledisloe.

Curtis Rona will be back in the 13 spot for the Lions clash. Photo: Getty ImagesHe finished the Test season with three Tests, a try, and a hunger for more opportunity at that level.

“I am still coming to terms with how this year has turned out for me,” he said.

“It’s been an incredible and humbling experience, and exciting at the same time.

“I know I still have to a long way to go if I want to play international rugby regularly and this is only the start of it.”

It was expected Rona would move back to Sydney, after joining the Force to be closer to his and his wife’s families, and he said he was looking forward to starting his Waratahs stint.

“I grew up playing rugby union and knew I would always return to the game. And I cannot wait to join the team," he said.

“This is a group that has won a Super Rugby championship before and I want to be part of a team that is driven to get back to winning ways again.”

Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson had long said the franchise was after a lock, centre and tighthead for 2018 and Rona fits the bill in the backline.

Gibson said he would be a handy addition in NSW.

"Curtis had a number of options available to him, including big money from overseas and rugby league clubs and it’s great that he has committed to us," he said.

"We want to help him achieve his goals and aspirations and add real value to the group.

"His signing is a boost to the squad and will add healthy competition, and create excellent depth across the outside back division."

Though he mainly played for the Wallabies at wing or fullback, he did have a cameo at centre against the Barbarians.

Rona is the latest former Force player to announce a new home, with Ben McCalman the last remaining Wallaby from the Perth franchise yet to make an official call on his destination.

The Waratahs open their 2018 Super Rugby season on Saturday February 24 against the Stormers, kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT. Tickets at waratahs.com.au.

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