The Sydney Roosters last night sneaked under the guard of Sydney rivals Wests Tigers to sign the colourful Mark “Piggy” Riddell.
Tigers officials confirmed their interest in Riddell, who was ready to sign a modest one-year deal at Concord as a back-up No. 9 to Robbie Farah. But the Roosters organised talks with Riddell for yesterday afternoon and quickly nabbed him.
Riddell, 29, signed a one-year deal with the Bondi Junction outfit to cover the loss of North Queensland recruit Anthony Watts, who will be out for most of next season with a leg injury.
Roosters coach Brian Smith built up a strong friendship with Riddell during their time together at the Parramatta Eels.
Tigers coach Tim Sheens last week said his club wanted Riddell but indicated the goalkicking hooker could be playing NSW Cup, with Robbie Farah a noted 80-minute player.
So with Riddell realising his chances of playing NRL were stronger at the Roosters, and mindful of his strong bond with coach Smith, the deal was struck.
One of the great characters of modern-day rugby league, Riddell will play back-up to grand final hooker Jake Friend at the Roosters.