The Rugby Pod’s Jack Pitt takes a look at the key players to keep an eye on in the Championship in 2016/17. With some real talent on show, several of these players could be destined for starting roles in the Premiership in the near future.
1) Will Carrick-Smith – Bedford Blues
I assure you, you wouldn’t miss this guy in a crowd. Standing at 6 feet 10 inches, he has all of the attributes to be essential to any lineout. Aside from his height, he is very mobile and has a good engine. A great signing for Bedford and Carrick-Smith himself, as he has lost his way slightly since being released from Exeter.
2) James Cordy-Redden – Ealing Trailfinders
After a stint with England sevens, Cordy-Redden has been picked up by Ealing permanently after playing with them on a sshort-termbasis last season. He brings the pace and power of sevens to the Championship, so I would expect him to be up there in the try scoring charts this year.
3) George Watkins – Jersey Reds
Watkins arrives from Bristol having been released. The winger fell out of sorts since arriving back from Cardiff part way through his deal. A prolific try scorer, Jersey have a real talent here. It wouldn’t be surprising if Watkins had a stellar season this year, and he will really benefit from regular game time.
4) Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi – London Irish
The English qualified prop arrives from Northampton Saints, he has spent the last two years dual registered with Moseley. Highly successful at age grade level, winning the Junior World Championships in 2013 and 14, Hobbs-Awoyemi will really look to push on this year.
5) Max Northcote-Green – London Irish
Arriving from Bath, injury and competition for places hampered Northcote-Greens time there. When he did play, he was mightily impressive. An out and out seven, expect him to flourish this year and win key ball for Irish in order to get them on the front foot. He hasn’t had a bad mentor in Francois Louw in his time at Bath either.
6) Ben Ransom – London Irish
Ransom drops down a league from Saracens. Stuck behind Alex Goode, he struggled to get game time at Saracens. Plus, with Matt Gallagher coming through, Ransom felt it best to move on for a fresh challenge. It will be interesting to see how he gets on this year, he has the potential to be a standout performer in this new look London Irish team.
7) Heath Stevens – London Welsh
The powerful centre arrives from Worcester Warriors, he has experience at Championship level and needs regular game time. With the loss of Guy Armitage, Stevens will provide a like for like attacking option going forward.
8) Miles Normandale – Rotherham Titans
The imposing lock arrives from Cardiff Blues, he was signed by them due to his performances for Cardiff Met RFC. Limited opportunities at Cardiff due to sheer squad size, this is the perfect opportunity for Normandale to get game time and showcase his talent.
9) Tom Hicks – Rotherham Titans
It was surprising Hicks was let go by Gloucester as he is a very promising young lock, but there is no doubt this move will aid his development. Standing at 6’7, he has all the attributes to succeed in the game.
10) Buster Lawrence – Rotherham Titans
Lawrence comes in from Moseley and was probably their stand out player in his time there, he had a spell at Wasps in between his time at Moseley which didn’t quite work out. He is a tall, quick and abrasive back-rower. He is a really great signing for Rotherham.