Newcastle Falcons have announced the signing of English flanker Connor Collett from New Zealand province, North Harbour.
The 22-year-old has enjoyed a remarkable rise over the past four seasons, originally leaving Kettering RFC and Stamford School to play club rugby in New Zealand with Massey RFC.
His performances for Massey were impressive enough to earn him a call-up to North Harbour’s provincial side for the Mitre 10 Cup Championship for the 2016 season, Collett playing all but one of their games and forming a key part of the side which defeated Otago to win the national final.
Topping North Harbour’s tackle count and winning their Most Promising Player and Premier Club Player of the Year awards in his first senior season, his eye-catching form continued during 2017 when he helped them to a third-placed finish in the top division of the Mitre 10 Cup.
Standing at 6 foot 1 and weighing 103 kg, Collett’s game is founded on work rate and defence, the former Stamford School captain making a total of 19 appearances for North Harbour over the past two seasons.
Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards said: “Connor’s story is a really interesting one and I admire the way he has worked his way up through the system in New Zealand, having started in the club game.
“He is a real grafter who covers a lot of ground and makes a nuisance of himself around the field, his style fits in with our philosophy and he has been playing to a high standard with North Harbour.
“He is English, which helps, and he has shown a great degree of talent and determination to earn this opportunity. He is a very brave player, he defends on the front foot and he is good over the ball, so we’re looking forward to him starting with us. I really do rate him.”