Shannon Wakeman is expected to link up with his new Huddersfield Giants teammates today.
The 6ft 2in prop, who weighs in at 16st 7lb (105kg), is due to arrive from Australia in time for the friendly against Workington Town at the John Smith’s (3.00).
It’s seems unlikely he will get into the action against the League One side, but it’s a chance for the rampaging former Illawarra Cutters player to get a flavour of things under coach Rick Stone before next Wednesday’s final warm-up at Warrington.
Stone, who has snapped up the Italian-heritage player on a two-year contract to replace Craig Huby, is excited to get Wakeman on board, believing this is just the chance he’s been waiting for.
“Shannon hasn’t played in the NRL yet, but he’s probably been really unlucky,” said Stone of pack man, who was signed to the St George Illawarra Dragons senior squad.
“He’s been one of the best front-row forwards in the New South Wales Cup, which is Championship equivalent over there, and I’ve coached against him and seen him play a lot over the last three or four years.
“He’s probably at that stage, at 26, where he needs to get that opportunity to establish himself as a better professional.
“I see this opportunity for Shannon as a really good one to cement his position as a decent pro who can do a really good job for us.
“He is powerful, he does his work in defence, he can break tackles and he can play some long minutes.
“I think he will be a good fit for our group, add a little bit of starch to our pack and, hopefully, a little bit of aggression as well.”
Stone confesses he’s never actually met Wakeman, but from what he’s seen of the player and their many conversations over the telephone in the past few months, he feels the Giants have a diamond to be polished.
“Once the opportunity came, Shannon worked really hard, got his passport to make himself available and he’s keen to come and play,” explained the coach.
“We will see if we can get him going as quickly as possible and, ideally, I’d like to see him have a game next Wednesday night against Warrington.
“Shannon hasn’t had a club (of late) and has been training on his own, so he will be a little bit underdone I would have thought and there will be improvement in him when he plays.
“Whether he plays in the trial (at Warrington) or in the first game, or whether he has to wait a little bit longer, only time will tell.
“We will assess him when he gets here and we will see how things are going to fit in best.”
The Giants will field a young squad against Workington, with Stone saying they are nursing a few injury niggles among the players right now, but he expects to be at 90% for Wednesday’s run-out at Warrington.
Wakeman’s compatriot Jake Mamo is expected to arrive in the next week, too, although he’s further behind in his fitness despite working hard with the squad at Newcastle Knights.