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Greene King IPA Championship player news

05 March 2014

  • Plymouth, Bristol and Leeds all expand squads with new signings
  • Ryan Hodson joins Jersey from Sydney club Eastern Suburbs
Bristol new signing

Photo: RFU Archive

Bristol Rugby, Jersey RFC, Plymouth Albion and Leeds Carnegie have all confirmed new signings following the transfer deadline at the end of last month.

Plymouth Albion head coach James Shanahan has continued building his squad for next season, securing his seventh new deal in Irishman Declan Cusack.

Cusack, 25, who joined Albion towards the end of the 2011-12 season, has signed a new one-year contract with the option of a second season.

Speaking about the signing, Shanahan said: “Declan has improved massively from when I first arrived at Albion.

“His game management is much better and he is a first-class goal kicker. Declan is a top professional and he is well respected by the rest of the players.”

Also in the West Country, Bristol Rugby announced a grand total of seven new signings on Wednesday, including Premiership talent Nick Koster (Bath) – who signs on a permanent contract after a loan spell – Max Crumpton (Harlequins) and from the RaboDirect PRO12, Matthew Morgan (Ospreys), Darren Hudson (Leinster) and Jack O’Connell (Leinster). The club’s growing squad is further bolstered by the signing of Hurricanes flanker Jack Lam and Leeds Carnegie scrum half Craig Hampson.

Speaking on the signing of Hampson, Director of Rugby Andy Robinson said: “Craig is a tenacious, confident player who is developing into a very good scrum half.

“He’s been a standout scrum half in the Championship for three seasons now and we’re looking forward to welcoming him to the club.”

Chris Pilgrim

Photo: Getty Images

Jersey and Leeds strengthen squads

Joining Jack Lam on the journey to the UK is Ryan Hodson, a native of Perth, Western Australia. With experience of Super Rugby Jack will join Jersey RFC, strengthening the squad for the final two months of the season.

The 24-year-old arrived last Thursday after flying from Sydney but was not considered for Jersey's game against the Cornish Pirates in Round 17, although he travelled with the squad in order to begin getting to know his new teammates.

“Ryan is an out-and-out open side, although there's no doubt he could fit in as a number 8 if need be,” said Head Coach Harvey Biljon. “I believe he's got the potential to add some real spark to our side in both defence and attack.

“We have had a number of injuries in the back row since I came to Jersey, and going into a crucial stage of the season I was keen to add another option.”

Delighted to have signed Chris and James – Gibson

Finally, in the North of England, Leeds Carnegie have swooped for Falcons pair scrum half Chris Pilgrim, 28, and centre James Fitzpatrick, 26, on two year contracts from the 2014-15 season onwards.

Fitzpatrick is likely to join up with his new club this month on loan when he overcomes a current injury for the remainder of the Greene King IPA Championship as Leeds look to cement their place in the top four play offs.

Chris Pilgrim joined Newcastle Falcons from Nottingham Rugby in the summer of 2009. After starting the first two RFU Championship matches last season for the Falcons of the 2012-13 season, Pilgrim's season was cut short after sustaining a torn anterior cruciate ligament at London Scottish. Testament to his dedication and commitment, Pilgrim got himself back in contention for selection for the end of season play-offs and the successful promotion, appearing on the bench for the first leg of the semi-final at Headingley Carnegie.

Commenting on the signings, Director of Rugby, Chris Gibson, said: “We are delighted to have signed two players of the proven quality of Chris and James. We have been monitoring both over a long period and had great reports on not just their abilities on the field but their attitude off the field, which is an important factor for us.”