London Welsh sign Bath back-rower

Date published: April 28 2015

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London Welsh have strengthened their back row resources for next season with the signings of four players, including Will Skuse from Bath.

Kieran Murphy (Brive), Ryan Hodson (Jersey) and Gus Jones (Wasps) have also signed for the relegated club.

Murphy joined the French side from the Scarlets in 2013, as they prepared for a return to the top flight, and as helped the club maintain its Top 14 status.

The 6ft 3in, 17st, number eight joined the Scarlets in 2011 from Llandovery and scored twice on his debut in a 31-3 win over Leicester Tigers in the LV= Cup at Parc y Scarlets in October 2011. He went on to make 41 appearances for the Scarlets, scoring six tries.

Blessed with explosive speed and power, he trained with the Wales squad prior to their 2012 June tour. Born in Aberdeen, he moved to Swansea when he was two.

Flanker Hodson joins Welsh from Jersey having played Super Rugby for Melbourne Rebels and Western Force.

He made two appearances for the Rebels in 2012 and in 2014 was called up by the Force from its wider training group, having previously graduated from the RugbyWA Academy and captained Force A.

The 6ft 2in, 16st 7lb, back-row forward initially spent two months with Jersey in early 2014 before returning for the full 2014/15 campaign as vice captain. His performances this season saw him pick up the Players' Player of Year and Player of Year awards, while he also ended as Jersey's joint top try scorer.

He has also played for Eastern Suburbs and Manley in Sydney's Shute Shield and for Cottesloe in Western Australia. He has represented Australia Universities.

A native of Perth, Hodson is EQP qualified through his Manchester grandmother.

Jones came through the academy at Wasps and helped Oxford University to Varsity success in 2012, 2013 and 2014 – the flanker was a try scorer in Oxford's 43-6 win in December.

Capped by England at U20, Jones scored four tries in a 67-7 victory over Wales in March 2014, and has also represented his country at U16, U17 and U18. He captained England at U17 and U18.

The flanker (6ft 1in and 15st) first laced up his boots at the age of eight at the Dragon School, Oxford, and was a member of the London Wasps Elite Player Development Group (EPDG) from the age of 13.

He captained Oxfordshire U16 and played for Oxford Harlequins from 2001-07.

As a member of the London Wasps Academy, Jones combined his rugby education with his academic studies at Oxford University.

Versatile back-row forward Skuse joins the Exiles from Bath. Comfortable anywhere across the back-row, Skuse has been part of the Bath Academy since 2009.

Skuse (6ft 3in and 17st 6lb) made his Bath debut against Cardiff Blues in the LV= Cup in October 2010 and has gone on to make eight Premiership appearances for the club, as well as playing in nine Challenge Cup matches.

Skuse has previous experience of the Championship, having been loaned out to Nottingham in 2014, and he has also played for Truro.

In 2011 he was selected in the England U20s Elite Player Squad and competed in the 2012 U20 Six Nations.

London Welsh director of rugby Steve Lewis said: "These four signings will add athleticism and dynamism to our back row next season and will ensure real competition for places in an area where we are already very strong.”

Re-signed for 2015/16:
Seb Jewell, Alan Awcock, Nic Reynolds, James Lewis, Will Robinson, Nathan Trevett, Koree Britton, Nathan Morris, Ben Cooper, Olly Barkley, Rob Lewis, Ben Pienaar and Chris Elder.

Already under contract for 2015/16:
Richard Thorpe, Ben West, Ricky Reeves, Jack Gilding, Eddie Aholelei, Josh McNally and Jesse Liston.

New signings:
Josh Drauniniu (Worcester Warriors), Martyn Thomas (Wasps), Guy Armitage (London Irish), Kieran Murphy (Brive), Ryan Hodson (Jersey), Gus Jones (Wasps) and Will Skuse (Bath Rugby).

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