Newcastle Falcons have added London Irish centre Johnny Williams to their squad for next season.
The 21-year-old has scored five tries in his 26 Premiership appearances for the Exiles, whom he helped to promotion from the RFU Championship last season.
Predominantly an inside centre but with the ability to play outside centre, Williams won the Junior World Championship with England Under-20s in 2016 after previously representing his country at Under-18s and 17s levels.
Standing at 6 foot 3 he offers a physical threat in both attack and defence, director of rugby Dean Richards delighted to have secured his signature.
“Johnny is a player I have admired for some time and he will bring a lot to our midfield,” said the Falcons boss.
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“He is a good footballer who possesses a strong offloading game but he is also a strike runner capable of forcing his way in behind the defensive line, so he offers us a bit of everything.
“It’s great that talented young English players like Johnny are taking note of the progress Newcastle Falcons are making as a club, and that they are wanting to be part of it.”
Williams said: “The biggest factor for me was the style of play that Newcastle are showing this season, and how well they’re going.
“The coaches at the Falcons are very highly regarded and I’ve jumped at the opportunity, I’ve played against them twice this season and they’ve shown their quality by reaching the semi-finals of the Aviva Premiership.”
Assessing the credentials of his new side, the centre added: “They’ve got massive threats all across the park.
“There’s understandably a lot of focus on their wingers with guys like Niki Goneva and Sinoti, but not enough credit is probably given to their forward pack and the ball they provide for the guys in behind.
“From my own perspective I want to go up there and expand my skill set, which I believe I can do with the calibre of players and coaches I’ll be working with.
“I’m probably stereotypically known for my ball-carrying, which is an important part of my game, but I don’t just want to be doing one thing. This is a fresh start, I’m keen to learn and I’m determined to become a more rounded player.”
Keen to credit London Irish before he heads to the North East for pre-season, Williams added: “I’ve been involved with Irish since I was 14 years old and I owe them a lot. I’ve enjoyed my time there, I’m leaving on good terms and I wish them only success for the future. I’m sure they’ll be straight back into the Premiership and I’ll always be grateful for the role they’ve had in my development as a player.”
Williams becomes the Falcons’ fifth confirmed new signing for next season following the previously-announced arrivals of Logovi’i Mulipola (Leicester Tigers), Guy Graham (Hawick), George McGuigan (Leicester Tigers) and Tom Arscott (Rouen).