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London Irish strengthens squad

30 April 2004

Issued on behalf London Irish

Initial details of the squad strengthening expected from London Irish were revealed today (29th April) with the confirmation of four important signings by the club.

Robbie Russell (27), who played at hooker for Scotland in the World Cup and has 19 caps for his country, joins after five seasons with Saracens. Robbie will replace Naka Drotske as senior hooker in the Exiles' squad. Naka is returning to South Africa during the summer after three outstanding seasons in the Premiership.

Rodd Penney (24), the highly regarded New Zealand born centre, joins from Orrell where he has made a considerable impact this season. Before coming to England Rodd played for North Harbour and was a member of the Auckland Blues development squad. He is England qualified and represented this country in the Wellington leg of this year's IRB World Sevens.

The signings complement those of Paul Hodgson, the England Under 21 scrum-half and Richard Skuse, the England Under-21 front row forward, who joined from Bristol Shoguns last month.

Conor O'Shea, Managing Director of London Irish, said: "While we have stabilised the club from a business perspective, it is imperative that we move forward on the playing side. These signings of a successful, senior international and emerging talent, together with the strong core squad and Academy system that we have in place, indicate our ambitions. We look forward to welcoming Robbie, Rodd, Paul and Richard for the start of pre-season training in July."

London Irish will announce details of two southern hemisphere, international players who have signed for the club for next season in due course.