By Bruce Walkley of AAP
SYDNEY, Feb 7 AAP - Sydney Tigers halfback Wes Patton walked up
and shook the hand of former Great Britain champion Ellery Hanley
during the rugby league World Sevens at the Sydney Football Stadium
Thinking Patton was a fan, Hanley said a few words of
encouragement to him, as he would to any other youngster in such a
Then someone told him: "That's the young bloke who's been
scoring all those tries for us out there."
Coach Wayne Pearce told the tale at Balmain Leagues Club today,
when the Tigers announced they had signed Hanley to a one-year
contract for the 1996 season.
Club director John Chalk said he believed that when Hanley found
out who Patton was, it played a big part in his decision to rejoin
the Tigers because it indicated the strength of the club's young
Hanley played with the Tigers in the 1988 grand final team which
lost to Canterbury after Hanley was flattened by Bulldogs
five-eighth Terry Lamb.
Asked whether he was looking forward to meeting up with Lamb on
the football field if the ARL-loyal Tigers and the Bulldogs, who
have joined Super League, were to play each other again, Hanley
said that incident was "in the past".
"I've spoken to Terry Lamb...that certainly doesn't worry me,"
"It's a tough sport, a contact sport, so you've got to expect
Hanley, 35, said he could have joined any of five or six clubs,
but chose the Tigers because he had fond memories of his past
association with the club.
He was particularly looking forward to rekindling his
association with tough Tigers forward Paul Sironen.
Hanley said he last played in May last year, but his fitness was
not a problem.
"My fitness has never been a problem. I always keep myself fit,"
He said he was prepared to play anywhere Pearce wanted.
"If he wants me to play loose forward, I'll play there. If he
wants me to play five-eighth, I'll play there. If he wants me to
play second row, I'll play there," he said.
"Wherever I'm needed, I'll play."
Pearce said he expected to play Hanley somewhere in the backs,
although he could "adapt to anywhere from front row to fullback".
"I think he's best suited to the lock, five-eighth or centre
role, and it's a matter of where he's best suited to the team on a
week to week basis," he said.
Tigers chief executive Danny Munk said Hanley would be involved
in junior coaching and marketing, with getting a sponsor one of the
Hanley said coaching an ARL team could be an option for him
"down the track", but in the meantime he would give Pearce whatever
help he could, particularly with the younger players.
Hanley will return to England to make personal arrangements and
is expected to be back about 10 days before the opening of the ARL
season on March 1.
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