Disgraced Simona finds rugby league home
Former NRL bad boy Tim Simona has quit Australia for French rugby league.
The controversial ex-Wests Tigers star hopes signing with semi-professional club FC.Lézignan will lead to a contract in the NRL or English Super League.
After being banned from playing over a betting scandal, the NSWRL this year granted Simona permission to play with Manly's feeder club Blacktown Workers in the Canterbury Cup.
While Simona was allowed back into rugby league's second tier, he failed in his bid to return to the NRL.
Simona, who signed with FC Lézignan for the 2019-20 season, was deregistered in March, 2017, after breaking NRL rules for betting on matches.
He was given an 18-month good behaviour bond by Campbelltown Local Court two years later for his ill-fated role in selling signed jerseys for auction online and pocketing the proceeds for his prodigious gambling habit.
FC.Lézignan acknowledged Simona's past and said his signing offered the player a "second chance."
Simona told the club: "I want to get back on my feet and prove that I can still play in NRL or Super League."
Alain Fabre, club co-chairman, was excited to have signed Simona.
"This is a great opportunity for the club, his high level experience will be beneficial for the entire team. He is a fabulous player, very spectacular who will bring the world to the stadium I hope," he said.
Simona had some high-profile support during his ban with Phil Gould calling for the player's suspension to be lifted.
In January this year, Simona wrote a letter to the NRL seeking his ban to end.
"The past two years have been the hardest of my life,'' Simona wrote. "I appreciate the invaluable lessons I have learnt, which have been many.
"My family had relied on me and my income to pay for food, rent, bills and holidays. In my culture the children support the parents and relatives overseas and I have not been able to do that, I have let them down.
"They are everything, they've kept me positive, made me realise that I'm not a bad person. I appreciate life more, I take nothing for granted. My intent at no stage was/has been to embarrass the game."