Jersey RFC have taken more steps in planning for the future with news that three more players - forwards Pierce Phillips, Gary Graham and Nick Selway - have agreed new contracts for the 2016/17 season.
Jersey are currently fifth in the Greene King IPA Championship, seeking to better their seventh place finish in 2014/15 but also to lay foundations for next season.
Phillips has been with Jersey since signing from Darlington Mowden Park in spring 2014, having formerly spent a season with Leeds Carnegie. The 23-year-old lock forward has made more than 30 appearances for the Islanders, captaining the side in several matches in this season's successful British & Irish Cup campaign.
Head Coach Harvey Biljon said: "Pierce has developed hugely over the past 18 months and he'll be a big asset to the squad as we move forward. The opportunities he's had as captain in recent games have enabled him to demonstrate his leadership abilities."
Graham, 23, joined Jersey from Scottish club Gala in February 2015, making his debut in a Greene King IPA Championship game at Rotherham before his season was cut short within a few weeks due to injury. The back row forward, the son of former Scotland prop George Graham, was back in action by the start of 2015/16, playing in 12 of Jersey's 13 league games so far as well as making five B&I Cup appearances.
"The more accustomed Gary has got to being a professional rugby player the better he has performed," said Biljon. "He's had a great season so far although I think there's more to come."
Approaching the end of his third season with Jersey, Selway made a successful switch across the front row from prop to hooker towards the end of last season, and this year has made a total of 16 competitive appearances for the Islanders, taking his total haul of Jersey 'caps' beyond 50. The 26-year-old formerly played for two National League clubs in the West of England, Lydney and Cinderford.
Biljon commented: "Adapting to a new position is a challenge that Nick's shown he can meet - I think he can continue to develop as a player and push on to get more opportunities in our Championship side over the rest of the current campaign and into next season."
The latest signings follow confirmation earlier this month of new deals for four members of the Jersey back-line: fly-half Brendan Cope, centre Lewis Robling, wing Ross Adair and full-back/wing Rich Lane.
Jersey have a total of 12 players confirmed in their squad for 2016/17 so far, with the seven re-signed players joining five team-mates whose existing deals stretch into next season: club captain Alex Rae (lock/back-row), hooker Joe Buckle, Nick Haining (back row) and locks Nick Campbell and Dave McKern.
"Having announced four backs a few weeks ago we wanted to have some similar good news about some of the key members of our pack of forwards," said Biljon. "There's still a lot of preparatory work to be done for 2016/17, while keeping our eye on the ball for our current campaign, but I'm pleased where we are at this stage of the season."
After last weekend's victory against Doncaster Knights, a result that confirmed qualification for the B&I Cup quarter-finals, Jersey return to action in the Greene King IPA Championship this Sunday with another away trip when they will take on league leaders and promotion favourites Bristol at Ashton Gate. Their next match at St Peter will be when Moseley visit the Island on Saturday February 6th.
Pictures: Jacquie Ranieri
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