10 January 2019
Director of Rugby Declan Kidney said that he was delighted that seven of London Irish’s brightest young talents had put pen to paper on new contracts to stay at the club.
Jacob Atkins, Rory Brand, Isaac Curtis-Harris, Ollie Hassell-Collins, Ben Loader, Tom Parton and Matt Williams have all featured in the club’s first team in both the Championship and Championship Cup this season.
Williams (centre, 20) is already in his third season of first team rugby and has caught the eye with his powerful running and eye for the try line, showing his potential with two scores in the Exiles’ last two matches. He was called into the England Under-20 squad in early 2018.
Parton (full back, 20) caught the eye with some impressive performances before an unfortunate injury earlier this autumn. He has also been a regular with England Under-20, for whom he started all five games en route to the 2017 World Rugby Under-20 final and then four more games in the 2018 competition.
Loader (wing, 20) has been a regular in the first team this season, having also represented England Under-20 in the 2018 Six Nations and World Rugby Under-20 Championship, scoring three tries in his four appearances at that level.
Atkins (fly half, 21) joined the London Irish Academy in 2016, gaining experience at Rosslyn Park and Bedford Blues in addition to his first team appearances for the Exiles.
Brand (scrum-half, 20) has been a regular in the England age-group set-up over the past three years, winning Under-20 caps in both 2017 and 2018, as well as being included in the current season’s squad.
Curtis-Harris (back row, 21) also joined the Academy in 2016, and has already experienced European Challenge Cup action in his career so far as well as regular appearances in the Championship and Championship Cup.
Hassell-Collins (wing, 19) is a speedy and powerful presence on the wing, offering an attacking threat whenever he gets the ball in his hands.
Kidney says that bringing through home-grown talent into the club’s first team squad is an integral part of his forward planning for London Irish’s future.
“We want our home-grown players to provide the core of the squad going forward,” he said. “London Irish is a club that has had a strong Academy for a number of years, and all of these players who have signed new contracts have shown that they have the ability to succeed at the highest level in the coming years.
“We’re delighted that they have accepted the offers that were made to them, and we look forward to seeing them grow and develop long into the future here at London Irish.”
London Irish's next home game is against Richmond on Sunday 13 January in the Greene King IPA Championship. Tickets are available from ticketing.londonirish.net