x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Long to join Hull FC

Hull sign the St Helens scrum-half Sean Long on a two-year contract starting next season.

Hull have signed St Helens scrum-half Sean Long on a two-year contract starting next season. The former Great Britain international, 32, was recently given permission by Saints to speak to other clubs. The Lancashire club had appeared unwilling to offer the much-decorated Long, winner of the Lance Todd Trophy three times, more than a one-year contract. Long turned down approaches from other clubs to sign at the KC Stadium. "This move is absolutely fabulous. It has been quite a hectic last couple of days but now everything is sorted I am really buzzing and looking forward to joining Hull," Long said.

"A few clubs contacted me and offered two-year deals but when Hull made an approach and after I had spoken to Richard Agar I knew where my future was. "I have to say one of the main reasons I agreed to the deal was after speaking to Rich. He explained where he wanted to go and where I would fit into those plans and what sort of job he would be looking for me to do in those plans. "It really excites me and I really believe it is going to revitalise my career." Long, who was released by his hometown club Wigan as a teenager, has enjoyed an outstanding career since joining Saints from Widnes in 1997. He has won every honour in the domestic game including four Super League titles and five Challenge Cups. His career has also been marked by controversy after a three-month ban following an investigation into betting irregularities and the premature return from a Great Britain tour.

Long will stay at Knowsley Road for the remainder of the season but Saints say they are then committed to looking to the future. "We fully respect Sean's decision. He has secured a two-year deal on very good terms and we wish him well, the Saints chairman Eamonn McManus said. "We have a number of very exciting young players who next season will be commanding regular, first-choice, selection and they must be given every opportunity in the long-term interests of the club. St Helens are committed to this policy. "That said, we must pay full tribute to the incredible achievements of Sean Long over the last 12 years at the Saints. "He is one of the most decorated players in the history of the club and has been pivotal to its pre-eminence in the Super League era. "His talent has been at the centre of all we have achieved and his personality has always enlivened the place. "He will leave as a personal friend of many of us and as a club legend." Long's departure may now increase speculation over the future of another key member of Saints' successful side over the past decade, Keiron Cunningham. The hooker is also in the final year of his contract. News of Long's move to Hull follows the recent announcement that the Australia forward Craig Fitzgibbon will join the club from Sydney Roosters next year. *PA Sport