Wests Rosellas hooker and Newcastle Rebels captain Alex Langbridge has quit the Newcastle RL premiers to follow coach Matt Lantry to Maitland.
In a major signing coup for the Pickers, the former Melbourne Storm Under 20's player joins ex-Knights utility Tyler Randell as currently the big additions to the Maitland roster for next season.
Randell, who had almost four seasons with the Knights from 2014 and played 44 NRL games before spending the past three years in England with Wakefield Trinity, has already returned home after agreeing to terms with the Pickers well before Lantry became coach.
Langbridge, along with younger brother Daniel, are Lantry's first recruits since taking the reins of his new club.
"Alex and Daniel both really enjoyed their time at Wests but I've built up a really strong relationship with them, particularly Alex, over the course of the past 12 months," Lantry said.
"I've got a lot of time for Alex both as a person and a player and the opportunity to come to Maitland was appealing to him but also the relationship we share is one I certainly value and I'm sure he does as well.
"I've also got a good relationship with Alex and Daniel's dad Mark so that played a part as well in them deciding to make the transition up there."
Lantry said it was a genuine career move for playmaker Daniel.
"With the depth Wests have in the halves, he knew he needed to be on the move anyway to become a consistent first grader," Lantry said.
"We'll certainly be giving him that opportunity at Maitland and that is partly Alex's other reason for also making the move. He wants to continue to play with his brother as long as he possibly can and that was a factor.
"Daniel's obviously going to have to earn a spot because there is another great young kid already at the club in the halves in Jeremy Gibson who I'm looking forward to working with as well."
Asked if Alex would become a captaincy contender given it's a job he held at representative level under Lantry this season, the coach said: "I guess so but we've got Tyler Randell there and obviously Sam Anderson, who was captain this year.
"What we need to build at Maitland is a really strong core group of senior players to make sure the education is there, not only on the field but off the field as well, for the young guys coming through."
The Pickers are yet to re-sign centres Geordie Connelly or Matt Allwood but remain confident of doing so and Lantry is looking to bring in a couple more players while making sure a pathway exists for young players.
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