He was the club’s best back this season but Easts Tigers gun winger Elijah Niko will call North Queensland home in 2012 in a bid to crack the NRL.
Niko has agreed to terms with the North Queensland Cowboys who are looking for depth after the double loss of Willie Tonga and Michael Bani.
And in another blow for the Tigers, Wynnum Manly ace Shea Moylan will not play for them in 2012 despite signing on with NRL affiliate Melbourne Storm.
Instead, he will play for Cronulla who are also a feeder club for the Storm in the New South Wales Cup.
Tigers boss Des Morris said the loss of Niko, a player once described by Storm rake Cameron Smith as the next Israel Folau, would be felt heavily at the club.
“It certainly will be a big loss,” he said.
“His effort and enthusiasm was first class all year.”
Morris said the club didn’t want to stand in the way of Niko and a genuine crack at first grade, backing the young winger to pull on a Cowboys jersey in the 2012 NRL season.
“I think he’ll do very well up there he’s a very committed player,” he said.
UPDATE: This article was incorrect. Elijah Niko has signed with the ARU for 2012 and won’t be part of the North Queensland Cowboys squad.