Rhinos swoop for Achurch
Australian forward Mitch Achurch has signed for Leeds and immediately set his sights on playing for England in the 2013 World Cup.
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The 24-year-old Penrith Panthers forward, whose mother was born in London and moved to Australia as a teenager, will join the reigning Super League champions on a four-year contract from November.
The 6st 5in, 18st Achurch, who has also played for North Queensland Cowboys, has made eight appearances for the Panthers so far this season, including their defeat at Melbourne on Saturday.
"It was obviously a big decision for me but my mum still has a lot of family in England and this feels like the right decision for me," he said.
"Growing up, every kid dreams of playing in the NRL and I have done that now and it was flattering to have both Penrith and Manly keen to sign me.
"I think the Super League competition will suit my natural game and I am excited about coming over to England for the next four years at least but hopefully longer.
"My first focus is coming over and doing my best for Leeds Rhinos but obviously with my heritage that would make me available for England and the World Cup next year.
"There is a long way to go between now and then and I need to be playing well but training and playing with world-class players at the Rhinos can only help me to develop as a player."
Leeds coach Brian McDermott said: "We are always looking to identify young talent both in Super League and elsewhere and Mitch is someone we were keen to sign once we had spotted his potential.
"At 24, he is obviously not the finished product but it has been great to speak to him and hear his appetite to develop and fulfil his potential here at the Rhinos over the next four seasons."