AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 25: Ben Murdoch-Masila of Tonga following the 2017 Rugby League World Cup Semi Final match between Tonga and England at Mt Smart Stadium on November 25, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Former New Zealand Warriors forward Ben Murdoch-Masila has officially joined the St George Illawarra Dragons on a two-year deal.

The contract will see the Tongan international remain with the joint venture until at least the end of the 2024 season following his release from the Warriors.

The move to release him from the Warriors after just two seasons and with a year to run on his deal at the club came as something of a surprise, although he has struggled to find a permanent spot in the side since relocating back from the English Super League ahead of 2021.

He has played 27 games across those two years, having previously spent time with time with the Wests Tigers and Penrith Panthers, before shifting to the English Super League where he played 60 games for the Salford Red Devils and 68 for the Warrington Wolves.

The veteran 31-year-old forward can play in both the middle and on the edge and will immediately compete for a spot at the Dragons, where the forward pack and defence were particular issues during a disappointing 2022 campaign.

Dragons head of football Ben Haran said Murdoch-Masila will continue to improve the club's forward pack.

“Ben is a quality player with great experience and he certainly provides what we have been looking to build within our forward pack,” Haran said in a club statement.

“We are excited to see him join the playing group next week and look forward to the impact he will have at the club.”

Murdoch-Masila will commence training with the club after the Christmas break, with the Dragons having a Round 1 bye before opening their season against the Gold Coast Titans.