Planet Rugby

Sextet re-sign with Harlequins

24th February 2014 11:19

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Ben Botica Harlequins AVP 2013

Three-year deal: Ben Botica

Six out-of-contract Harlequins players have committed their future to the London club, including fly-half Ben Botica.

England prospects Rob Buchanan, Tom Casson, Joe Gray, Charlie Matthews and Dave Ward have all signed contract extensions until the end of the 2015/16 season, while Botica has extended his contract until the end of the 2016/17 season.

Hookers Buchanan, Gray and Ward have all proved themselves in recent times for Harlequins and have also caught the eye of the England selectors.

Both Buchanan and Gray have toured with England, whilst Dave Ward most recently represented his country in the pre-2014 Six Nations England Saxons fixtures.

Hong Kong-born Buchanan, 22, graduated from the Harlequins Academy in 2010 and has since gone on to make 53 appearances for the club. He made his senior starting debut in 2012 against Saracens and has so far scored five tries.

The hooker is hoping to be back for the run-in at the end of the season after suffering from a pectoral injury, which he sustained in the Heineken Cup clash in Clermont in October last year.

Gray joined Harlequins in 2010 from Northampton Saints and has recently returned from a knee injury that side lined him for over three months this season.

Since making his debut in October 2010, he has gone on to make 86 appearances for the club and score five tries. The 25-year-old was instrumental in Harlequins victories in the Amlin Challenge Cup in 2011 and the Aviva Premiership in 2012.

Ward has really made a mark this season having taken the opportunities that arose due to the injuries to Gray and Buchanan.He made such an impact for the club, including four Man of the Match awards, that he went on to represent the England Saxons against both Ireland and Scotland in January. The hooker joined Harlequins from Cornish Pirates last season and has played 20 games, scoring one try.

Charlie Matthews is another graduate of the Harlequins Academy. The 22-year-old has made over 50 senior appearances for the side having made his debut in 2009 against Newcastle Falcons. Matthews has represented England at U18s, U20's in the 2010 and 2011 Junior World Championships and most recently the England Saxons in January of this year.

Centre Tom Casson joined Harlequins in February 2010 and has since played over 50 games for the club, having made his debut against Bayonne in the Amlin Challenge Cup. He demonstrates leadership qualities and has previously captained the side in the LV= Cup.

Still only 23, the former England U20 offers versatility and strength in the Harlequins backline.

Ben Botica has proven himself as a genuine rival and also a long-term successor to fellow New Zealander Nick Evans and was instrumental in the club's LV= Cup and A League successes in his first season.

The fly-half who has also played centre this season joined the club in 2012 and has already made 46 appearances. His goal kicking is exceptional and over the course of the last two seasons he has kicked 33 conversions, 60 penalties and scored six tries. He qualifies to play for England next year.

"We are obviously delighted that these players have committed to us and will continue their development at Harlequins," commented Harlequins director of rugby, Conor O'Shea.

"They are here to win trophies but they also understand that if the group succeeds then they will be in a position to achieve their personal aims.

"As much as we are able to, we want to keep the core of our group together for as long as possible and their commitment really allows us to push on and plan for the future."

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