Four new faces confirm Jersey moves04/05/2016
Jersey RFC have confirmed four new signings to join the club's 1st XV squad for 2016/17.
Full-back Jack Cuthbert, flanker James Doyle, fly-half Sam Katz and loose-head prop Marc Thomas have all agreed terms with the Reds and will join the squad for pre-season training in June.
Head Coach Harvey Biljon said: "I'm pleased that we can confirm some really high calibre players for our squad next season as we look to further consolidate Jersey's position in the Greene King IPA Championship."
28-year-old Cuthbert will leave Edinburgh Rugby this month after three seasons, during which he made around 60 appearances in the Guinness Pro12 for the Scottish regional side. The Bristol-born full-back previously spent seven seasons with Bath, making his debut as a teenager in 2006 and subsequently racking up around 90 Premiership and Heineken Cup appearances.
Scottish-qualified through his Glaswegian mother, Cuthbert played international under 19 rugby in 2006 and subsequently featured at Sevens and A team level. He won a full Scottish cap in 2011, coming on as a replacement in the Rugby World Cup warm-up win over Ireland at Murrayfield.
"I'm looking to Jack to be a really dominant character at full-back, although he's also capable in other positions," said Biljon. "It's great for the Jersey supporters that we will have another international in our line-up alongside the likes of Tua Otto, Sami Fisilau and Uili Kolo'ofa'i."
Doyle, who will be 25 in July, is a New Zealander who played in England from 2012-14, including a brief spell at Leicester Tigers, appearances in the Aviva Premiership and Heineken Cup for Sale Sharks in 2012/13 and a year in the Greene King IPA Championship with Leeds Carnegie the following season.
Since returning to New Zealand, Doyle has represented North Harbour in the ITM Cup and Ranfurly Shield, as well as studying for a Bachelor of Business at Massey University. Before becoming a professional rugby player he represented his country in athletics, securing bronze in the NZ Championship in men’s shotput in 2012.
Biljon said: "James comes to us highly recommended by my former Wasps' team-mate Craig Dowd. As an out-an-out openside flanker I think he'll be able to bring the balance to our back row that was occasionally lacking this season, as well as creating some serious competition for starting places."
Katz, 25, was part of the academy sections at both London Welsh and Saracens as a teenager and played his first senior rugby at National Two level with Newbury and Loughborough Students, subsequently playing for Rosslyn Park in National One and then returning to Loughborough, who by this stage were playing at the same level. He played for England Students alongside team-mate George Eastwell, who has also joined Jersey ahead of the 2016/17 campaign.
For the past two seasons Katz has played for SilverStorm El Salvador in the top level of the domestic game in Spain, the Division de Honor. In 2014/15 he was the league's top points scorer with 324 as his side reached the final of the championship play-offs. This season Katz has contributed another 348 points with El Salvador once again reaching the play-offs, as well as claiming the Copa del Rey trophy with a 13-9 win over city rivals Valladolid RAC.
"Sam is a very capable footballer, both out-of-hand and off the kicking tee," said Biljon. "He's someone who can make the step up to the Championship and I'm expecting him to push Brendan Cope for the starting shirt at fly-half."
Thomas, 25, is leaving Welsh regional side Ospreys after four seasons, during which time he has made around 40 Pro12 and European appearances. Brought up in the mid-Wales town of Builth Wells, he played his first senior rugby for Glamorgan Wanderers and Bridgend Ravens, plus a season down under in Otago, New Zealand, in 2008.
Biljon commented: "I'm excited to see Marc playing in the Championship, where he has the opportunity to really excel. He comes with some solid Pro12 experience but hasn't played much rugby this season, so I expect he'll be hungry to get started when the season gets going."
After claiming the highest finish of their four Championship seasons to date - sixth in this season's final rankings - Jersey will finish the 2015/16 season with the annual Ipes Siam Cup clash against Channel island rivals Guernsey this Saturday (k-o 2.30pm). The Reds' line-up, to be announced on Thursday, will include a mix of amateur players from the Jersey Athletic squad and professionals who have met the three-season qualifying mark agreed between the clubs.
Pic credits: Huw Evans Agency/Ospreys Rugby for Marc Thomas & Edinburgh Rugby for Jack Cuthbert