Six of Leicester Tigers’ rising stars committed their futures to the club this week with news of fresh contract terms for Harry Wells, Jordan Olowofela, Ben White, Harry Simmons, Sam Lewis and Tom Hardwick, to the delight of the #TigersFamily.
Five of the six have represented England Under-20s– including Hardwick, who is currently in camp with the squad for the Under-20s Six Nations – and all six started their careers with the Tigers academy.
Club captain Tom Youngs has described the value of promoting home-grown talent.
He said: “They are the spine of the team, the blokes who come through the academy.
“It is very easy for guys to come here and say they love the place, but it is very different when a person has come through the whole system.
“At 16, when they come in here all they want to do is put that Tigers shirt on and they are getting the opportunity to do that.”Tom Youngs
Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy has detailed his desire to reinforce his squad with both proven talent – like back-rower Jordan Taufua – and English-qualified youngsters.
Collectively, the six players have made 139 appearances in the red, white and green of Leicester, with more than 60 of those for second-rower Wells.
He said: “This is home. This is the club I’ve always wanted to play for and I’m really excited where the club is going. Geordan is pulling this place in the right direction and I’m enjoying playing for him.
“This is a close group, who are keen to work together and have all bought into what we want to build and where we want to go.
“I grew up watching the club and the big names playing for it, so for me to do that means everything.”Harry Wells
And at an Open Supporters’ Forum this week, head coach Murphy made no secret of his delight in having the six players put pen to paper.
“It is great to see these guys coming through, and it is definitely something that we want to see,” he said.
“We believe in a home-grown team of English players, particularly Leicester players and guys who come through the academy and know what we’re about. They’ve all worked very, very hard.
“We don’t pick anyone just because they’re an academy player – it’s because they’ve worked hard and earned their spot.
“If the academy continues to produce players as good as these guys, we will always look to pick them.”