The Cornish Pirates have continued their close season recruitment drive with the signing of four highly rated Truro College prospects on two-year loan deals from Exeter Chiefs Academy, writes Dick Straughan.
Centre Tom Hendrickson, full-back Max Bodilly, flanker Matt Bolwell, and prop Mike Roach have all spent the last two seasons playing for Truro College but now have the opportunity to continue their studies whilst on the books of a Premiership club and training and playing Championship rugby.
New Zealand-born Hendrickson grew up in the UK and is a product of the Pirates youth section. He has represented Cornwall at Under-20 level and was briefly at Redruth describing the move back to the Pirates as a "surprise" and "really exciting".
Bodilly, a Newlyn resident, explained: "I played for the club from the Under-8's to the Under-16's so it will be really good to go back." Whilst Londoner Roach, who now lives in Penzance, said: "I have always wanted to be a professional rugby player and this will be a massive step towards it."
Matt Bolwell is a product of Wadebridge Camels youth and colts set-up and has already represented England at Under-18 level. He cannot wait to get started at his new club
"With the Stadium and Josh Lewsey now coming down it's as if they are starting a new chapter at the same time as me," he said. "With all the guidance now available to me here and at Exeter it is so exciting to be honest."
With their first proper pre-season due to begin in less than six weeks Pirates head coach Ian Davies agreed that it is a great opportunity for the quartet and for the Cornish club.
"It is a great partnership and something we have been waiting a long time to get hold of," he said. "The fact that they are all a bit older means that they can play senior rugby and it won't impact on their studies whilst they train full-time with us."
Davies explained that whether the new signings make the senior team in their first season at the Mennaye Field is "up to them" but added: "We have to be realistic because they might just find it a big step up from college rugby to the Championship."
"So it might be Launceston or Redruth first followed by B&I Cup rugby and then the Championship. But Kyle Moyle went straight from Cornwall One into our team so who knows?"
Davies has already said that he wants a better structure for dual-registration players at the Pirates and sees this development as a key part of that already. If the link up with the college is successful it is likely to progress long-term but Davies joked: "The bad thing for us is that if they do too well like Dave Ewers, Sam Hill and Jack Nowell they will all get taken away from us!"