HULL KR: Robins close in on signing Aussie legend Willie Mason
HULL KR are closing in on securing one of the club's biggest ever signings in Australian star prop Willie Mason, the Mail can exclusively reveal.
Rovers have offered the 30-year-old North Queensland Cowboys player a deal to move to Craven Park for 2011.
And the Mail understands that despite similar approaches from three other Super League clubs, Mason favours a move to the Robins.
It comes as KR continue their quest to bring in a top quality overseas player to the club, having missed out on Melbourne Storm pair Brett Finch and Jeff Lima.
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Mason has expressed an interest in leaving the NRL when his contract at the Cowboys ends this season.
And a move to Super League appears the most likely with few clubs keen to take him on in the NRL due to his age, salary demands and poor disciplinary record.
The Mail understands Mason would be willing to come to the UK on a deal of around £100,000 a year. Bradford, Huddersfield and Salford are the other clubs believed to have registered their interest with his representatives.
But with Rovers having funds available having never replaced Paul Cooke – and with Chev Walker looking unlikely to get a new deal – the club will be able cover the cost and fit him into the salary cap.
Rovers' general manager Mike Smith said: "I can confirm we had a brief conversation with Willie Mason's agent in Australia about coming to England for the next few years. It's nothing more than declaring an interest."
Mason's track record would make him Rovers' biggest signing since winning promotion to Super League in 2007.
He has represented Australia 24 times and New South Wales 13 times during his illustrious career in the NRL.
He enjoyed a successful spell with Canterbury Bulldogs, where he was man of the match when they won the Grand Final, before moving to Sydney Roosters, where he played alongside Hull FC stars Mark O'Meley and Craig Fitzgibbon.
Voted 'most hated player in the NRL' in 2007, he has become known as one of the game's big hitters, famously knocking Stuart Fielden out with a fierce punch in the second minute of Great Britain's 23-12 Tri Nations win in Sydney in 2006.
Controversy has followed Mason throughout his career.
In 2003, he tested positive to an illicit social drug and was fined $25,000 by the Bulldogs.
A year later Mason, along with Trent Waterhouse, Craig Wing, Craig Gower and current FC prop O'Meley, was fined for unprofessional behaviour for leaving the team hotel after the side had returned from a night out.