The club moved to ease concerns over the lack of depth in the back division by signing Canberra Raiders player David Howell. Powerfully built, twenty-four year old Howell can cover the wing and fullback positions, but is most likely to fill the centre slot vacated by the departed Paul Sykes. His arrival will also hopefully provide the club with breathing space to nurture home grown youngster Tony Clubb as a long-term first team centre.
Howell joins the club amongst mixed signals over his commitment and desire to play in the UK. He is understood to be disappointed not to feature in Canberra’s plans and hopes to return to the NRL after his spell in London. Quins fans are unlikely be too perturbed about such a prospect as any return to the NRL would require Howell to demonstrate some fine form over the next two seasons.
The former St George-Illawarra junior found limited opportunities at the Dragons where he was behind Kangaroo centres Mark Gasnier and Matt Cooper seeing him switch to the Raiders in 2005. He played forty-eight first grade games during his time in the Australian capital, but after two seasons as a first choice player his appearances were restricted by injuries in 2007. He comes to Quins with a reputation as a solid performer who is prone to unfortunate errors under pressure. However Quins fans will give him the benefit of the doubt given the club’s past reputation for picking up unheralded signings who prove themselves to be inspired choices.
In other news London Skolars head coach Latham Tawhai will be making the trip across the capital to join Brian McDermott’s backroom staff as an assistant coach. Kiwi Tawhai, a former journeyman in the lower leagues, led the Skolars to their best ever standing last season and will link up with Bill Peden and Rob Powell to form one of the brightest young coaching teams in the Super League. He will be replaced at New River by former Leigh boss and fellow New Zealander Tony Benson.