SAWTELL Panthers have pulled off a stunning coup by signing former rugged Test forward Richard Villasanti.
The 30-year-old prop has the unique distinction of representing three countries, despite being born in Canberra and qualifying as a Raiders junior.
He played for the Junior Kiwis in 1999, was a member of the Tonga’s World Cup squad in 2000 before selection in the Kangaroos touring side in 2003 after playing his only Test against the Kiwis.
Along the way there were 116 first grade NRL matches with West Tigers, New Zealand Warriors and Cronulla Sharks.
A knee injury ended Villasanti’s top grade career in 2007 but he’s since played various levels of premier league football and was tipped to play the coming season with Ipswich in the Queensland Cup competition before being snapped up locally.
“The deal was done at training on Tuesday night and we’re very pleased to welcome Richard to Sawtell,” club boss Mark Maynard remarked.
“His signing again marks our traditional forward depth.”
The Panthers have retained ex-NRL forward Dallas Hood and probably Jeremy Wood, who was earlier expected to be playing Queensland Cup.