Northampton Saints has confirmed the new intake into the 2016/17 Senior Academy, with six players having put pen to paper on their first professional contract.
Tom Emery (St Joseph’s College) is a scrum-half, but is versatile enough to play in a number of positions in the back line. He has come through the Eastern Counties Elite Player Development Group (EPDG) to represent the Saints at the 2015 Singha Premiership Rugby Sevens Series and the 2016 Bury St Edmunds Sevens, as well as April’s Mobbs Memorial Match win over the British Army.
James Grayson (Moulton College) also played in the Mobbs Memorial Match, as well as representing England Under-18 during the past season. A fly half, Grayson played first team rugby for Old Northamptonians in National League 3 (Midlands) in 2015/16, scoring 36 points.
Devante Onojaife (Stowe School) is following his elder brother Jordan into the Saints’ Senior Academy. After converting from the back row to loosehead prop, Onojaife has gone from strength to strength, playing for England Under-18.
Ehren Painter (Felsted School) is another England Under-18 prop, this time on the tighthead side. Another player to have come through the Eastern Counties EPDG, Painter was a regular in the Saints Under-18 team that competed in the Premiership Rugby Academies League.
Alex Rayment (Royal Hospital School) has also come through the Eastern Counties EPDG to represent the Under-18 teams of both the Saints and England. After representing the Saints in the 2015 Singha Premiership Rugby Sevens Series he made the step up into a senior team for the 2016 Mobbs Memorial Match and has been a part of the Wanderers’ match day squad in the Aviva ‘A’ League.
Toby Trinder (Framlingham College) is the final Eastern Counties prop to step up to the full-time ranks. A convert from the back row into the front row, he has played for Ipswich rugby club as well as being selected in the England Under-17 squad.
Senior Academy coach Mark Hopley says that the sextet has plenty of potential and is looking forward to seeing them develop at Franklin’s Gardens.
“We’re in the fortunate position to have plenty of competition for places in the Senior Academy,” he said. “All of the players who are coming in have earned their contracts not just through their ability but also their positive attitude and work ethic throughout their time in the EPDG and Junior Academy.
“They are all under no illusions that getting a contract is just the beginning; it’s now up to them to continue working hard and show that they deserve a place in our full-time squad.”