FORMER Scone Thoroughbred junior and ex-NRL prop Dane Tilse has signed with the Maitland Pickers for the upcoming season.
Tilse, who played 201 first grade games for the Canberra Raiders after starting his career with the Newcastle Knights in 2004, confirmed late last month that he would be joining the Pickers.
Pickers president Frank Lawler said the club beat Newcastle Rugby League rivals Central Newcastle and South Newcastle to the 32-year-old’s signature.
Tilse returned to the Hunter this month following a year-and-a-half playing with recently relegated English Super League club Hull Kingston Rovers.
It’s the second recruiting coup for the Pickers for 2017 after signing former Super League star Luke Dorn to play in his hometown.
Pickers coach Trevor Ott said securing Tilse’s signature was great news for the team, particularly on top of Dorn’s arrival at the club.
“It’s a great boost. To add someone of Dane’s calibre and experience to the club and our forwards is tremendous,” Ott said.
“Dane has 200 games of NRL first grade experience and to have him around and help the development of our young forwards is invaluable.
“Combined with Dorny, it is just such a great boost to our leadership which we lost with the retirements of PJ Ellis and Billy Towers last year,” he said.
“Their professionalism in preparation and game experience will certainly benefit all the players around them and at the club in general.”
Ott said he had initially spoken with Tilse last year but at that stage he had taken up the invitation from Hull coach Tim Sheens to continue in Super League.
“Dane is good mates with Luke Mercer and when we heard he wanted to return early to be back with his family, we got onto him again,” he said.
“He received offers from Souths and Central, but he decided on sign with us.”
Ott said Tilse was just the type of player he was looking for to give Dorn a platform to control games and give the Pickers more creative attacking options.
The Pickers forward pack has taken on a much more formidable appearance with Tilse being joined by rugby converts Inoke Rokotolu and Elekana Laupola from Waratahs along with Jacob Sinclair, Brenton Horwood and Rob Mason who have all re-signed for 2017.