Planet Rugby

New centre for Gloucester

25th March 2014 10:06

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Mark Atkinson in action for Bedford Blues

Kingsholm bound: Mark Atkinson

Gloucester have announced that former England U20 international centre Mark Atkinson has inked a contract and will arrive for 2014/15.

Atkinson joins the club from Bedford Blues and has spent most of his career playing fly-half, but has been turning out at inside centre during much of his time with the the Blues.

Formerly with Sale Sharks and London Wasps, the 24-year-old provides a physical presence in the backline while he is also capable of playing full-back. Atkinson's versatility and style of play will make him a valuable asset, according to Gloucester's director of rugby, Nigel Davies.

"Mark's one of the stand out players in the Championship and, if you speak to anyone who watches much rugby at that level, I'm sure they'll agree," he said.

"He's 6 feet 4 inches tall, so brings great stature to his game but also has a great handling and offloading skill set.

"He's played 10 for most of his career so can step in there, as well as at 15, but is coming predominantly as a 12 who can play other positions. He will offer great versatility."

And Davies stressed that he hopes to see Atkinson's follow in the footsteps of other recent Championship signings like Rob Cook and Sione Kalamafoni.

"When you look at players who come from the Championship, you're looking for three or four things which set that player apart from everyone else. Certainly with the guys that we've signed from that level of rugby, we see that on a regular basis," he said.

"Obviously a big part of the process is to meet these players and establish the type of character they are, their commitment levels, their competitiveness and their desire to succeed.

"Mark ticks all those boxes. He's not coming here as cover, he's coming to Gloucester to challenge for a place."

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