Planet Rugby

Irish close to securing Yarde

20th November 2013 09:22

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marland yarde

Talks: Marland Yarde

London Irish boss Brian Smith has revealed that England winger Marland Yarde is close to signing a new contract with the club.

Yarde has scored six tries in six matches for London Irish so far this season and started for England in the win over Australia, before missing out against Argentina and New Zealand due to injury.

The 21-year-old's contract expires at the end of the current season, with Irish keen to tie down their academy product after previously losing Matt Garvey, Jonathan Joseph, Anthony Watson and more to other clubs.

"A couple of league wins wouldn't hurt, that would get us across the line - if we picked up those last two wins it would probably be a done deal," Smith told BBC Radio Berkshire.

"Conversations [with Yarde] started the moment I got here. We sat down straight away and started talks about how we could upgrade and extend his contract.

"I got here and looked at Marland's contract when he'd just got back from an U20s tour. At that stage he wasn't really on [England head coach] Stuart Lancaster's radar but we identified him here as a talent.

"Things have been moving in a really, really positive direction.

"One strength of our club is we can help showcase his talent. We have half-backs that can distribute the ball to him, the team has an appetite to play and we have a desire to build game plans around key players. And he is one of our key players."

Irish have also opened talks to keep stay Wallaby signing James O'Connor at the club beyond the end of this season, despite the 23-year-old being linked with a move to Toulon and back to Australia.

"The club is making a massive effort to keep those two big guns in the back three," added Smith.

"It would be nice to hold onto James O'Connor and Marland - that is clearly first prize for the club. I'm working my socks off on the coaching side of things, but I'm director of rugby and stuff like recruitment, retention and squad planning has got me working 24/7."

Smith also revealed that following the positive injection of O'Connor's talent into the squad, Irish are currently looking for a similar high-billing signing in their tight five.

"We are clearly looking to add to that sort of quality, particularly to the tight five," Smith added.

"What we are look to do is make sure that going forward we are two deep in all those key tight-five positions, so that if our start player is out there is not big drop off in production."

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