DEWSBURY RAMS have signed Wakefield Wildcats half-back Matt Wildie for the 2015 season.
The 23-year-old joins on an initial one-year deal from the Super League club.
The half-back or hooker – who came through the academy system at the Wildcats before making his first team debut in 2010 – will rejoin former coach Glenn Morrison at the Rams.
Wildie turned down an extended deal with the Super League club and an offer from recently-relegated London Broncos before agreeing to join the Tetley’s Stadium outfit.
The former Stanley Rangers junior, who lives just 10 minutes from the Rams’ ground, said he is looking forward to helping guide Dewsbury to the top of the Championship.
He said: “I’ve been looking at the Rams for the last year since Morro (Glenn Morrison) took over.
“I’ve had him as a coach at Wakefield before and he spoke highly of the club and he persuaded me to come here and I’m happy I’ve put pen to paper now and I look forward to next year.
“I spoke to a few of the lads from Dewsbury who I know from Wakefield, and they can’t speak highly enough of the club and that obviously helped me to decide too.”
The former England junior player has also enjoyed spells in the Championship before, having played on loan for Doncaster and Batley, and he says he knows the challenge that lies ahead.
“I know what to expect but I think the league will change a lot next year and there will be a lot more competition,” he added.
“I wanted to play regular footy and I feel I have a better chance of playing regular rugby here than at Wakefield.
“I’ve been at Wakefield since I was 16 and I think I needed a change, so I jumped at the opportunity to come here.”
Former Super League star Morrison said: “Matty is a great signing for the club and I’m very happy we’ve been able to bring him here.
“He has great hands, a very good turn of pace and could potentially make a fantastic half-back partner for Anthony Thackeray in 2015.
“Matty had the chance to stay at Wakefield and also London came in for him but he thinks this is a good place to be and sees we are on the way up.
“I’m sure he will be back in Super League one day but we are happy to have him here, even if it is for the short term.”
Meanwhile, Anthony Thackeray and Ryan Hepworth have become the latest players to extend their stay at Dewsbury.
Ex-Halifax favourite Thackeray has penned a new three-year deal with the club, despite advances from other teams. Hepworth has signed a new one-year deal.
Winger Greg Scott and prop Stephen Nash have also put pen to paper on new one-year deals.
Scott is one of the club’s longest-serving players, having joined ahead of the 2012 season from Widnes Vikings. His 2014 season was cut short by a knee injury but Morrison is confident he can bounce back.
Nash joined the club from Castleford Tigers in 2013 and the towering forward has quickly become a fans’ favourite.
Dewsbury will compete in the second tier of the new league structure in 2015 without a dual-registration agreement in place.
Despite approaches from a number of clubs the Rams will instead assemble a larger squad, with the option of loan signings still available to coach Morrison.
The Rams are also set to make two new signings in the coming months, with an as-yet-unnamed Championship player set to be announced in September.
Chairman Mark Sawyer said the club have held talks with the Championship player but he believes it is “bad form” to announce anything whilst he is still playing for his current club.
In other club news, the club have issued their intent to field a second team next season to the RFL.