Reigning Group 10 player of the year Chris Bamford mightn’t be around anymore, but Orange Hawks believe they may have found the next best thing.
The two blues will unleash Saulala Houma at this weekend’s Mudgee Nines, with the hulking prop landing in Orange on Monday before commencing training with Hawks mid-week.
Houma signed with the club after playing the last five years with Newtown in the NSW Rugby League Intrust Super Premiership.
The 120 kilogram monster played a touch over 100 games for the Jets – including the 2012 NSW Cup grand final - ensuring he joins the two blues with a wealth of experience and, tellingly, plenty of size.
Hawks president Mark Johnson confirmed the addition of Houma on Wednesday and said the giant New Zealander is hoping to establish a home in Orange.
Massive signing for @OrangeHawks1 ahead of the #Mudgee Nines on the weekend.— Nick McGrath (@nickmcgrath4) February 28, 2018
The club has secured gigantic prop Saul Houma for 2018 and 2019.
He'll take some beating in the biggest man in #group10 contest this winter, too #MASSIVE 😲😲😲😲😲😲@CountryRL@WesternRamspic.twitter.com/6SgdnLvbbs
“He’s a big unit, similar to Bamford-size,” Johnson said.
“He’s signed for two years and he’s looking to bring the family out of western Syndey. His kids are young and they’re happy to settle here.
“He’s in the market place for a house, and that’s something people struggle to do in Sydney, buy a house.”
Johnson said the addition of Houma – the 2010 New Zealand domestic player of the year – would further strengthen a pack already boasting plenty of big bodies, namely Rakai Tuheke, lock Nathan Potts, backrower Ethan McKellar and prop Sia Nemani.
From a weakness in 2017 to a definite strength of Hawks heading into 2018, Johnson believes Hawks’ pack will be able to match it with impressive forwards at Bathurst St Pat’s and Oberon.
“That’s probably what we lacked last year, too, a decent sized fella to get the momentum going. We’ve got a big pack as it, adding Saul to that is pretty handy,” he said.
A former member of the Cronulla Sharks NRL squad, Houma developed into a crowd favourite at Henson Park and is set to do the same at Wade Park for Willie Heta’s Hawks in 2018, an outfit minus big centre Sione Tongia.
Tongia has moved back to Auckland to play this season.