Wigan prop Ryan Sutton has signed a two-year contract with NRL side Canberra Raiders.
The 22-year-old Sutton, an ever-present this year who is in the England Knights’ elite training squad, will leave the Warriors when his contract expires at the end of the season.
Sutton said: “Being a young lad from Wigan it was a tough decision to make to leave my hometown club but I’ve always wanted to try my hand in the NRL and this was a great opportunity for me.
“I’m grateful to all of the coaching staff and players that have helped me develop not just as a player but as a person too.
“I am still a Wigan player this year and I am hungry to leave with more silverware and will give 100 per cent in everything I do until my departure.”
Sutton has made 107 appearances for Wigan since making his debut in 2014 and was in the team that won the 2016 Grand Final and the 2017 World Club Challenge.
Wigan executive director Kris Radlinski said: “It is disappointing to lose a player who we have helped develop through our academy and someone who we believe can and will improve in the future.
“That said, a rugby league player only has a short career and Ryan has given five seasons of great service to Wigan.
“Ryan made this decision a long time ago and has been transparent throughout this process. He made no secret of his desire to play in Australia. There were actually no negotiations, Ryan knew that he wanted NRL and stuck firm to that.
“We wish him every success for the future as he looks to fulfil his dreams overseas.”
Canberra recruitment and high-performance director Peter Mulholland said: “Ryan is a tremendous young talent who I know was looking for an opportunity to test himself in the NRL and we’re thrilled to have been able to get him into our squad for the next two seasons.
Radlinksi says Wigan, who parted company with Frank-Paul Nuuausala earlier in the season, will scour the market for a replacement but, with Ben Flower, Tony Clubb and Taulima Tautai still under contract, he insists there is no rush.
The Warriors will also part company with head coach Shaun Wane and full-back Sam Tomkins at the end of the year.