Keighley snare Albert


KEIGHLEY Cougars have announced the signing of Papua New Guinea international and former SP Hunters forward Wellington Albert for next season.
The 26-year-old joins the English third-tier rugby league club on a one-year deal following his departure from Challenge Cup winners Leeds Rhinos.
One of head coach Rhys Lovegrove’s top targets in his recruitment process ahead of next season, the dynamic prop adds a combination of experience, size and strength to the pack.
And Albert is looking forward to getting started at Cougar Park, especially in a World Cup year.
“I’m really looking forward to a new opportunity with Keighley,” he said.
“I can’t wait to meet up with the boys now.
“It has been seven or eight months since I last got to meet up with teammates and train, and it is really exciting for me.
“There are some really good players at the club already, so I’m looking forward to getting into training, helping build some confidence and then winning some games once we get into the new season.
“I didn’t really know much about Keighley.
“But last year, I met a few of the boys when I played against them in a couple of training matches with Featherstone.
“My agent called me around a month ago to inform me of Keighley’s interest and ask me what I thought about joining the club.
“I am just looking forward now to getting back out and playing some footy, and I’m really looking forward to doing that with Keighley and helping the club move up into the Championship.”
A product of the Lae Tigers in his homeland, Albert’s performances turned heads as he was selected for the PNG squad at the 2013 World Cup in England, scoring a try in his only appearance at the tournament against New Zealand at Headingley.
This would allow him to go on National Rugby League club Penrith.
Albert played five games for the Panthers’ National Youth Competition team before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.
However, he recovered and was promoted to Penrith’s 2015 New South Wales Cup side.
Albert then returned home to sign with the SP Hunters for the 2017 season and was one of their many standout performers in their title-winning campaign.
He then selected for the 2017 World Cup, featuring in games against Wales and Ireland, scoring in the Kumuls thrashing of Wales in the group stage.
Continuing to stand out for club and country, the forward arrived in the United Kingdom ahead of the 2018 Super League season, signing with the Widnes Vikings.
Despite being unable to stop the Vikings being relegated to the Championship, Albert signed a new two-year deal, but financial issues in early 2019 saw him depart Cheshire and sign with the Rhinos following a successful trial.
After initially featuring regularly for Leeds, most of his time on their books was spent on loan at the Rhinos’ partner club Featherstone Rovers.
It was his coach at the Rovers, James Webster, who made Lovegrove aware of Albert’s availability, and the Cougars acted swiftly to secure his services for the coming year.
Lovegrove said: “I’m really excited about having a player such as Wellington at the club.
“His athleticism is going to really add something unique to not just the forward pack, but the squad as a whole.
“With the team we have and the systems that I want to play moving forward, Wellington will definitely add something different.
“I’m just really excited now to see him in Cougars colours next year.”
Chairman Mick O’Neill said: “It is a great coup for the club that a player of Wellington’s caliber has signed with us.
“I was very pleased to be involved in the negotiations to sign Wellington and am absolutely delighted to be able to welcome him to Keighley.
“He is a giant that will add something new and different to our forwards next season, and I just can’t wait to see Wellington in training and playing once the season begins.
“The reputation that Wellington has back home in PNG will put us in good stead for the future when it comes to signing targets among his fellow countrymen, who we hope will look to come once we’re in the Championship.”
– Keighley News


  • Playing for a third tier is a step backwards as intrust cup or even digicel comp is of a higher standard, what’s the big deal here?

  • What is the next step forward after playing in this third tier competition? Otherwise its a waste of time, talent and energy. Otherwise stay with PNG Hunters and do your best. This is the hallway to National Rugby League.

  • Admire his perseverance, maintaining a positive mindset in his football career journey given the challenges his been faced without through his football career thus far. Hopefully one day he can feature prominently at the top level.

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