The Warrington Wolves have made their first signing for 2018, the Tonga international Sitaleki Akauola.

The 25-year-old is a prop at the Penrith Panthers but he has now signed a two-year deal with Warrington that is subject to him receiving a visa. The Wolves are now close to securing their Super League status after winning their first three fixtures in the Super 8s Qualifiers.

Akauola has made 21 appearances for the Panthers since he joined them from the Wests Tigers in 2016 and he is expected to be a straight replacement for Ashton Sims.

Speaking after the signing Warrington’s coach Tony Smith said, “We are looking forward to Sitaleki joining us. He’s certainly got impact. He’s a big man who will bring plenty of attributes to us and into our forward pack. It’s a very good signing. He’s keen to play in Super League and I think he’s just the right player at this time when we need to strengthen in that area. He’ll bring us exactly what we need.”

Akaulo will be joining his former Penrith teammate Peta Hiku. Speaking this week he said, “For me personally it’s a really good opportunity to give me that extra drive. I’ve heard a lot about the Super League so I am excited and looking forward to the new challenges. I know there’s a lot of quality players at the Warrington club so hopefully I can add something to that.”

He added that he has spoken to Hiku about the move and was told just good things about the club and the other players. He said that Hiku “loves it” at the club and that the other players “have all made him feel very welcome”. To summarise he added, “I’m looking forward to being part of Warrington Wolves.”