York Knights are delighted to announce the signing of Italian international forward Brenden Santi until the end of the 2023 season, thanks to the support of Squad Builder.
Santi, who is proudly sponsored by Taal Roofing, arrives at York after departing from Keighley Cougars last week, having made 47 appearances in two-and-a-half seasons for the West Yorkshire club, scoring 15 tries.
Primarily a prop but also capable of playing in the back-row, Santi featured 14 times last year for Keighley as the Cougars won the Betfred League One title with a 100% winning record.
The 29-year-old’s performances saw him retain his spot in the Italy squad for the autumn’s World Cup, having also represented his nation in the 2013 and 2017 World Cups.
He featured in all three of Italy's Group B contests, including the 28-4 win over Scotland, taking him to a total of 15 international caps, during which time he has scored four tries.
Santi has also represented Newcastle Thunder and Toulouse Olympique, featuring 19 times for the latter in 2019 as the French club finished second in the Betfred Championship.
The Sydney-born forward also boasts NRL experience on his CV, having played 11 times for West Tigers between 2014 and 2015.
Santi said: “I’m really excited to get going here at York. The Club have spoken to me about their vision and it’s really exciting for me to be at a Club with that clear purpose and drive.
“Personally, I want to go to the next level in my rugby league career and I know that I have that in me.
“I know that the younger players here at York are going to be able to push me and there’s some older heads that will be able to teach me a few things too.
“I’m really looking forward to coming in, working really hard and elevating my game. I have got a fair amount of experience and given that, hopefully I can lead from the front in a leadership role.
“I’m excited to be working with Hendo again. He had a big influence on the team during his time at Keighley and he was always someone that challenged me. I think he’s definitely the type of coach that I need to get the best out of myself."
On what the Knights fans can look forward to from the front-rower, Santi added: “I’d like to think of myself as a no-nonsense, hard-working forward and as a player that leads by my actions.
“To be able to put on that York jersey is really exciting. Hopefully I can come in and make a difference."
Knights Head Coach Andrew Henderson, who is proudly sponsored by Haxby Sports Bar, said: “When I became aware that Brenden had been released by Keighley, I jumped at the chance to bring him to York.
"To bring in an established player at this level was really important to us. Brenden ticks the boxes in terms of who we’re looking to bring to the Club from a character standpoint and in terms of his quality as a player too.
"I’m really pleased to have secured his services at a much-needed time for us.”
Henderson added of the attributes that attracted him to Santi: "Brenden is an honest player who is not afraid to take the tough carries and works hard on and off the field. He will bring a degree of leadership too.
“He’s played in the NRL, in France with Toulouse and in three World Cups for Italy, playing alongside and against some quality players.
“I think he’ll add some real value to the team and challenge those middle-unit players around him to raise their standards and hopefully he can produce the form I know he is capable to take the team forward."
Santi could make his York debut against Featherstone Rovers on Sunday 25th June (3pm) due to being cup tied for Sunday’s Betfred Challenge Cup Quarter-Final clash against Leigh Leopards (5pm).
The LNER Community Stadium will host an historic double header involving two Betfred Challenge Cup Quarter-Final ties on Sunday. York Valkyrie face Cardiff Demons in the Betfred Women's Challenge Cup (2pm) before York Knights meet Betfred Super League side Leigh Leopards (5pm) in the Betfred Men's Challenge Cup.
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