RugbyL: Welsh forward Powell to swap union for league

Wales forward Andy Powell has signed for rugby league powerhouses Wigan Warriors, the club said on Tuesday.

The Sale Sharks back-rower has penned a two-and-a-half year deal with the Warriors and will join when the English Premiership season finishes in May.

The 31-year-old had previously been courted by the now disbanded Wales-based former Super League outfit Crusaders.

Powell has won 23 caps for Wales and was part of the British and Irish Lions squad that toured South Africa in 2009.

He follows in the footsteps of other Welsh union converts to league Scott Quinell, who moved from Llanelli to Wigan for two seasons before coming back to Richmond, and Gareth Thomas, who ended his career with a stint at the Crusaders.

Powell has played for Leicester, Wasps, Scarlets and Cardiff Blues during a union career which began with Newport.

He has often courted controversy during his career and in 2010 was arrested for driving a golf buggy on the M4 motorway.

In October last year Sale fined him £5,000 (5,800 euros, $7,600) for using abusive language and making offensive hand gestures towards spectators.

Wigan, who dominated rugby league in the 1990s, also announced the departure of England forwards Lee Mossop and Gareth Hock to Australians Parramatta Eels from 2014 on two-year contracts with an option for a third year.

Meanwhile, second rower Liam Farrell has signed a new five-year contract and former St Helens scrum-half Sean Long will join the club's backroom staff following his resignation as assistant coach with Salford Reds.