Negotiations and contract signings are well under way for the Townsville & Districts Mendi Blackhawks who this week announced the signing of experienced five-eighth Shaun Nona.
Nona – who is currently with the Illawarra Cutters – will this weekend take to the field on the biggest rugby league stage of all, NRL grand final day, as his side face off with Intrust Super Cup champions the Burleigh Bears.
He has spent time at both the North Queensland Cowboys and the Melbourne Storm in the NRL as well as the Northern Pride in the Intrust Super Cup prior to heading to NSW.
Nona starred for the NSW Residents this year in their win over the XXXX Queensland Residents, and the 26-year old’s combination with Drew Hutchinson has been lauded this season as a key factor in the Cutters success.
The Tully junior now has a perfect pair of premierships from both states, with the 2016 NSW Intrust Super Premiership with the Cutters and the 2014 Intrust Super Cup premiership with the Northern Pride.
After the NRL grand final this weekend, Nona will enjoy a well-earned break before he arrives in Townsville late October to begin pre-season training with the Blackhawks.
Nona will join fellow profile signing Lee Jewitt who will arrive in Australia in October. Jewitt started his career with Wigan Warriors, making his debut in 2005.
In his 160 plus Super League appearances, he has also played for the Salford City Reds and French Club the Limoux Grizzlies.
The Englishman is looking forward to settling in Townsville with his family and taking on the challenge of Intrust Super Cup.
The Blackhawks have also signed some exciting young talent from the National Youth Competition in Jordan Kenworthy and Ross Bella.
Both played for the North Queensland Cowboys NYC side who ended up finishing the 2016 season in second place, but missed the grand final after being knocked out in the preliminary final.
Kenworthy was born in NSW and has been with the Cowboys since 2014. The young lock forward has plenty of size on his side and has a Mal Meninga Cup title under his belt with the Townsville Stingers (who are now known as the Townsville Blackhawks) from back in 2014.
Mackay-born Bella made his Intrust Super Cup debut at 18 years of age for the Mackay Cutters and has been described as an intelligent footballer who works hard and is solid in the middle.
The Sarina junior has played in both the NYC competition for the Cowboys and the Intrust Super Cup for the Mackay Cutters during 2016.
Both players are up-and-comers who will be looking to follow the likes of Bowen junior Corey Jensen into the NRL system via the excellent pathway at the Blackhawks.
They will be ably mentored by the likes of Jensen and Daniel Beasley who the Blackhawks are looking forward to welcoming back to the field alongside fellow prop Temone Power after both players spent the 2016 season on the sidelines.
The Townsville club have also resigned a number of their talented 2016 squad members and are in negotiations with a number of other experienced players.
They will look to finalise their squad in the coming weeks.