Featherstone Rovers coach Jon Sharp praised the integrity of Frankie Mariano’s agent after Rovers fended off a late bid by Super League club Catalans Dragons to sign the Scotland international second-row forward.
Sharp had verbally agreed a deal with Mariano’s agent Craig Murdock but the signing had not been finalised when Catalans made a last minute attempt to capture the 29-year-old former Castleford Tigers player.
“Catalans came in for him the night of his signing. They came in at 5.30 as we were sitting down at 9pm to finalise the deal,” said Sharp.
“Catalans coming in at the last minute could potentially have thrown a spanner in the works but credit to Frankie’s agent Craig Murdock he stayed true to his word.
“We’d agreed verbally and he honoured that verbal agreement so hats off to him.
“Agents cop a fair bit of criticism but it was my first dealings with Craig and I was really impressed with him and his integrity and also with Frankie’s willingness to come to Featherstone and have a really good crack, playing Championship rugby and giving it his best.”
Mariano’s signing on a 12-month contract was announced at a fans forum in the Rovers clubhouse.
It will be his second spell at Featherstone. He played for them on loan from Wakefield Trinity in 2013.
“We unexpectedly got the opportunity to make it happen and I am delighted we’ve signed him,” added Sharp.
“I tried to sign him about three months ago but he’d got plenty of interest from Super League clubs. Things didn’t quite happen for him with that so the deal was back on for us.
“Frankie said he’d enjoyed his time at Featherstone when he was here before so I think that gave us a chance as well.
“I like to hear that players want to come to a place - I think that’s really important - and he really gave me the impression he was keen to come to Featherstone and do his best for us.
“He’s a big man and when you see him move he’s quick for his size so there’s plenty of athleticism there.
“He’s going to bring a lot of punch on the edges that I’ve been looking for and talking about for the last six months.
“I see him very much as a wide running back rower who will hopefully be a handful.”
Mariano, who made his debut for Scotland last month in their successful Four Nations campaign, was released by Castleford at the end of last season after an injury-hit campaign.
Said Sharp: “I’ve done my research and I know he’s had his own issues with regards to getting on the field.
“I am sure Castleford have done everything they could possibly do. They have an outstanding physio in Matt Crowther and a really good conditioner in Ben Cooper who I’ve worked with in the past so I know it may well have been a probability of bad luck for Frankie and hopefully that bad luck with a run of injuries has come to an end and we will get to see the best of him.
“Frankie has now had his first week with us. He’s getting involved and getting up to speed with the players and the calls.
“We are taking it easy with him initially. We want to find out where he is at physically because of his recent history so we will be careful with him at the moment but we’ll be putting enough into him so that he’s developing. Frankie said being involved with Scotland was really good for him and he really enjoyed it. He said it was important for him to prove to others that he was back to full fitness and he was fit to play.”