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12th March 2018, 17:45 | toronto_wolfpack
The Canadian outfit have landed the 26-year-old former Warrington Wolves full-back despite the fact he signed a new three-year contract with the Red Devils just under 12 months ago.
It was O’Brien’s dramatic long-range drop goal, in golden-point extra-time in the Million Pound Game at Hull KR 18 months ago, that kept Salford in Super League.
O’Brien, who makes the move with immediate effect, is the latest big-name recruit for the Wolfpack, who gained promotion from Betfred League 1 at the first attempt in 2017 and are currently fourth in the Betfred Championship with four wins and a draw from their first six matches.
“An opportunity came up to bring in a quality full-back like Gareth and it was too good to miss,” said Toronto head coach Paul Rowley.
“It’s rare that a player of his ability becomes available and so, with one eye on succession planning and also the immediate, we have no hesitation in bringing Gareth to the club.
“The competition for places will continue to increase along with our efforts to progress further as the season unfolds.”
O’Brien was left out of Salford’s team for Sunday’s game at Castleford Tigers as he finalised his move.
“It was a decision that me, my partner Chloe and my family are really excited about,” he said.
“The club has a lot of ambition and I’m hoping I can contribute to their success. I can’t wait to meet the boys and get started.”
Salford say they initially rejected Toronto’s offer for O’Brien but reluctantly granted the player permission to speak to them and put forward an asking price which was met.
A Red Devils spokesman said: “While the club is sorry to see Gareth leave, Salford Red Devils are keen to maintain a squad that is fully motivated and committed.
“With that in mind the club are currently active in the market for replacements and will make further announcements regarding the strengthening of the squad in due course.
“The club would now ask its fans to come together to support the team and help them pick up two valuable Betfred Super League points against Hull FC this Friday at the AJ Bell Stadium.”
O’Brien is the second high-profile player to be sold by Salford in the last six months after accepting a fee of £170,000 from Warrington for forward Ben Murdoch-Masila.