Jersey Reds have confirmed four more players for the club's 2017/18 squad. Tongan international 'Apakuki Ma'afu has agreed a new contract, and will be joined by fellow centre Mark Best, who will leave Ulster at the end of the current season. The other signings are in the back row - Rory Bartle from London Scottish and Matt Rogerson from Sale Sharks.
Ma'afu, 29, joined the Reds midway through the current season and made his debut against Doncaster Knights in December. The three-times-capped Tongan, formerly with the New South Wales Country Eagles in Australia, has been a regular feature through the remainder of the season, combining strong running skills with some robust defence.
"Kuki has made a fantastic impact since his arrival and been an integral part of our successful run over the second half of the season - he absolutely deserves the contract extension he's been given,' said Reds' Head Coach Harvey Biljon.
Belfast-born Best, 23, has been part of the Ulster set-up from under 18 level, at which age group he also played for Ireland. He's been a regular feature in the Irish province's British & Irish Cup campaigns over the last two seasons, including two appearances against Jersey this season and captaining Ulster 'A'. He has also played domestic rugby for Ballymena.
Biljon added: "Mark's a player we've watched over the last two to three years, and whenever you've looked at the teams he's been playing in he's always stood out. He's not had the break-through at Ulster, which reflects the calibre of the other backs they have, so this is a real opportunity to get regular game-time and realise his potential."
Rory Bartle has been with London Scottish for the past two seasons, having formerly been at Hartpury College and played Aviva 'A' League rugby for Gloucester. The 21-year-old, who can play anywhere in the back five of the scrum, was born in Pontypridd and began his pro career within the Academy section at Cardiff Blues, and has a Wales under 20 cap. He made almost 50 appearances during his time with London Scottish and captained the side this season.
Harvey Biljon said: "Rory's shown leadership ability as a young man and we believe we've identified a position in the back row where he can develop his game, which will be good for Rory and also for Jersey Reds."
23-year-old Matt Rogerson signed for Sale Sharks in summer 2015 after graduating in Marketing and Management from Loughborough University. He has made LV Cup and Premiership Sevens appearances for the Sharks and appeared as a dual-registered player for National One club Fylde. During his three years of studying at university, the Lancaster-born back row man made more than 50 national league appearances for Loughborough Students.
"Matt's a real athlete with ambitions to play at the top level," said Biljon. "He's been within touching distance of this, but hasn't been able to get that much game-time, so now he has the chance to compete for a regular place in the Championship and really kick on in his career."
The majority of the Reds' professionals completed their season with the recent 29-28 defeat to Munster 'A' in the final of the British & Irish Cup. The last match of the season will see the Reds host Guernsey Raiders in the 2017 Ipes Siam Cup this Saturday. A mixture of professional and amateur players will take on Jersey's local rivals, and the day will also feature three other matches for the 2nd, Veteran and Women's teams from the rival Channel Island clubs. Full details about the Siam can be found HERE
18 May 2023
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