Leicester Tigers have agreed new deals with five members of the club’s Development Squad ahead of the 2020/21 season.
All five have experienced Under-18 League title wins during the Tigers Academy’s treble run in recent seasons and joined the development programme in the summer of 2019.
Back-rower Ashworth, lock Manz and prop Whitcombe have represented the club in the Premiership Rugby Shield already this season, while also spending time on loan at National League clubs as part of the development.
Whitcombe also spent last summer on loan at Sydney University in Australia, where the club’s new attack coach Rob Taylor was in charge, and the 19-year-old more recently represented England in the Under-20s Six Nations.
Martin and Van Poortvliet who have also represented England at age-grade levels, made their senior debuts in the 2019/20 Premiership Rugby Cup and have played senior rugby in the Premiership Shield and on loan elsewhere.
"These five are a continuation of this strategy, to bring through the best young talent at Tigers who represent what we are about as a club"Geordan Murphy
Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy said the five players have “earned” the new deals and represented the club’s commitment to developing from within if the player show the attributes and characteristics expected of players in Leicester.
“We are passionate about developing young players in Leicester who we want to see make their way up the ranks of the club and represent Tigers for a long time,” said Murphy.
“These five are a continuation of this strategy, to bring through the best young talent at Tigers who represent what we are about as a club.
“All of these youngsters have impressed since stepping up into senior rugby last season and have earned the opportunity to continue their journeys with us through their hard work, on and off the pitch, and their commitment to wanting to develop as players and people.”
Murphy, who will move into the Director of Rugby role on July 1, challenged the group to “push on” with the opportunity they have been given.
“The challenge for them now is to push on and take their games to the next level,” he said.
“It’s a new-look Leicester Tigers heading into next season, with fresh faces in our playing ranks and key additions in our coaching team in Steve Borthwick, Rob Taylor and Aled Walters, and the younger members of our group need to put their hands up as genuine, senior players.
“We are confident they can do it but, ultimately, it’s on them now to show us it’s more than just potential and fans should be excited about players of their ability and young men of their calibre coming through at Leicester Tigers.”
"It’s on them now to show us it’s more than just potential and fans should be excited about players of their ability and young men of their calibre coming through at Leicester Tigers"Geordan Murphy
The quintet join fellow academy graduates Joe Browning, Jonny Law and Freddie Steward as members of the club’s development squad committed to new deals in recent weeks and take the total number of players to have re-signed to 18.
Tigers also recently confirmed the six ‘cubs’ who will join the senior development programme next season from the Under-18 League title-winning academy squads.
Senior players to have agreed new deals include internationals Ben and Tom Youngs, George Ford and Ellis Genge, who will be joined by incoming internationals Nemani Nadolo, Matt Scott and Shalva Mamukashvili, as well as South African back-rower Cyle Brink, with Murphy confirming he still expects to make other additions ahead of the new season.
“It’s an exciting, large group of new players we will see at the club from next season, in both the development and senior squads,” Murphy added.
“There will be others and – like those we have confirmed so far – they will all be key to what we are building at Leicester Tigers.”
Renewed contracts 2020/21
- Freddie Steward
- George Martin
- Henri Lavin
- Jack Van Poortvliet
- James Whitcombe
- Joe Browning
- Jonny Law
- Ollie Ashworth
- Taylor Gough
- Thom Smith
- Tom Manz
New recruits 2020/21
- Cyle Brink
- Matt Scott
- Nemani Nadolo
- Shalva Mamukashvili
- Zack Henry
Academy promotions 2020/21