NEW Giants coach Jon Sharp has celebrated his McAlpine arrival by landing highly-rated Australian Chris Nero in a massive coup for the Super League club.
The 22-year-old St George Illawarra star had been strongly linked with a move to Super League Grand Finalists Bradford Bulls.
But Sharp spent the weekend tying up a deal with the powerful centre or second-rower, who has a European passport because his family hail from Greece, and completed the formalities this morning.
At 6ft 2in and 15st, Nero possesses the physical presence to be a handful anywhere on the field, with Sharp looking at the possibility of playing his new signing alongside fellow Australian Ben Roarty to form a formidable back-row partnership.
But Sharp admits the versatility of Nero adds to his value.
"I would describe Chris as a strike player, whether he's playing in the back-row or in the centres," said a delighted Sharp.
"He will hit the edges hard, has good footwork and has the ability to offload in the tackle.
"There's no doubt he will be a tremendous asset for us and his size and athleticism will add to the physical presence in our side.
"Although he's only 22 he has spent the past two seasons playing first grade and has been very comfortable playing at that level.
"When I began my research into Chris I spoke to Jason Hooper at St Helens about him because Jason was a teammate of his at St George. His advice was `go for it.'
"It was a similar story when I spoke to Brian Smith at Parramatta. He also rates Chris highly.
"I'm obviously pleased we've got our man, and I can see the headline now: `Former Saint signs former Saint!"
Nero will arrive for pre-season training on December 1 to take up a two-year contract, ending speculation that he could be about to join the Bulls.
Bradford revealed their keeness last month to snap up Nero on a one-year contract.
But the fact the Giants were prepared to offer him a deal for two years appears to have been a factor in Huddersfield's favour.
Nero joins Stuart Donlan and Paul Smith as the new McAlpine signings for Super League IX, although more are expected to follow.
Hopes are high that new director Alan Bamber's squadbuilder fund will raise enough money to secure the services of at least one more established player.
Bamber is holding a fans meeting at the McAlpine on Friday (7.00) when they will receive a fund update, with club officials confident they will be encouraged by the news.
"We've been delighted with the response to Alan's scheme," said Giants spokesman Richard Thewlis.
"But the best way of seeing for yourself is to get down to the stadium on Friday when we're also obviously hoping to further boost the fund."