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Knights swoop to sign Italian World Cup hopeful Dario Esposito
YORK City Knights have concluded their deal to sign a Rugby League World Cup hopeful from down under – and he could well be thrown straight into the side for Friday night’s visit of Dewsbury.
Dario Esposito, an Italian Kiwi living in Australia, who has been recommended to the Knights by former Super League Man of Steel Adrian Vowles, is set to land in England this week and could immediately be handed his Championship debut.
The Press revealed last week that a new signing from down under was imminent and it has now been confirmed the 23-year-old has penned an agreement to stay at Huntington Stadium for the remainder of this season, with the Knights having an option to retain him for 2013 should he impress enough, albeit with a Super League release clause.
The club are confident he will warrant the 2013 extension – and are hopeful he could become a star at Championship level given his experience of Queensland Cup rugby in Australia, one level below the NRL, the world’s top club competition.
Knights general manager Ian Wilson says the forward, who is already part of the Italy squad, has come to Europe to further his hopes of representing the Azzurri in next year’s World Cup. He has also earned good reviews from former Leeds and Castleford favourite Vowles, who now works in the media in Australia covering the Queensland Cup.
“We were aware that he was wanting to come over to England,” said Wilson.
“We asked for DVDs and footage and we liked what we saw. Adrian Vowles, who writes for a paper in Queensland, gave him good raps. From what we’ve seen, he looks a very good player. He’s playing at a high standard of competition. It’s a better standard to what our previous Aussies played at, and everyone remembers how good the likes of Simon Friend, Dave Buckley and Trevor Krause were. They were all outstanding for us.
“He plays at a level below the NRL, so as a minimum it’s on a par with the Championship, if not better.”
Esposito, a 6ft 2in back-row or prop, plays for Souths Logan Magpies, having previously been with Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles.
Most teams in the Queensland Cup are effectively feeder clubs to NRL outfits. The Magpies were formerly affiliated to Canberra Raiders but have struck out on their own this year.
Wilson added: “He wants to experience the UK but he’s also got big ambitions to play in the World Cup and if he’s playing first-grade over here for us it’s probably a good opportunity to impress Italian staff. Paul Broadbent (former Knights coach) is now on the Italy coaching team so there’s already a link.”