London Irish announce contracted Academy players for 2014/15 Season

London Irish have contracted seven players to their senior Academy programme for the 2014/15 season.

Ollie Adams, Theo Vukasinovic, Ollie Curry, Connor Murphy, Harry Lightfoot-Brown, Ross Neal and Cameron Cowell will join Tom Smallbone, Gerard Ellis, Richard Palframan and Tom Fowlie in the Club’s senior Academy next season.

Ollie Adams is a hooker who has been involved with the London Irish Amateur Club since he was 12 years old. He has been in the Exiles Elite Player Development group (EPDG) since he was 13 and has gone onto play in the Club’s AASE programme. He has played for the England U17s and U18s and was part of the England under 18s side that won the FIRA/AER European Championship.

Second row Ollie Curry joined the EPDG programme at the age of 14 before joining the AASE programme. Ollie played for Winchester RFC at a young age and has just been selected in the England U19s training squad.

Theo Vukasinovic attends Reeds School and has been involved with the London Irish Amateurs since the age of 7. The lock forward has been involved in the EPDG since the age of 14 and will next year combine rugby with a degree at Brunel University.

Scrum half Connor Murphy is another who has been with the Amateur Club throughout his career. He moved from the EPDG into the AASE programme and has played for Ireland U18s and Irish Exiles.

RGS High Wycombe captain Ross Neal has come through the ranks at Beaconsfield RFC. He has also been in the England U19 training squad.

Harry Lightfoot-Brown has come through the youth rugby system at Teddington RFC and then through the EPDG and AASE programmes at London Irish. He has represented England at U16, U17 and U18 level.

Cameron Cowell was also in the England under 18 team that won the FIRA/AER European Championship. The full back has been in the AASE programme since the age of 16 and prior to that played for Twickenham RFC. Cameron has recently been added to the England 7s development squad and is in the England U19’s training squad.

London Irish Academy Manager Billy Clark said: “We’re thrilled to be able welcome this group of players into the senior Academy. They’ve all excelled throughout their time in the junior Academy, be it through our AASE programme or EPDG, and deserve the opportunity they have all worked so hard for.

“The Club is placing a renewed emphasis on home grown players and the investment in the Academy coaching team, facilities and infrastructure of the Club as a whole reflects this. We believe all seven players can go on to be regular first team players for the Club, and to be working in day in day out at the Hazelwood facility under the tutelage of this team of Academy coaches means there is no better place for them to learn their trade. Along with Tom Fowlie, Gerrard Ellis and Tom Smallbone we have a group of players that can go on to form the backbone of our side for years to come.”

Academy Forwards Coach Declan Danaher said: “It’s great for the guys to sign their first contracts with the Club, I’m really pleased for them. This has been my first year of working with the youngsters in our region and I’m massively excited about the talent we have coming through our system. The seven guys we have contracted all have the work ethic and attitude we’re looking for in order to excel at the Club. They were all outstanding in our Aviva U18 league campaign where they were able to showcase their strengths and I can’t wait to continue to work with them in July."


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