Former Yorkshire Carnegie ace Jack Barnard will return to play for his hometown team when he joins up with Harrogate RUFC next month.
The 22-year-old back row forward came through the Cockerels’ junior set-up before going on to play for England Under-16s and Under-18s as well as in the RFU Championship for the Headingley outfit.
Currently studying at and playing his rugby for Leeds Beckett University, Barnard has agreed to join Dave Doherty’s side’s battle to stay in National Two North at the conclusion of the British Universities and College Sport season.
“This is a real coup for us,” director of rugby Doherty said.
“Jack is an incredible talent and signing a player of his calibre is a real statement of intent.
“It shows what we’re looking to do going forward, and the ambition that we have.
“Jack is also a Harrogate boy, who learned the game at the club and it’s great that he’s come full circle.”
Barnard is expected to be available for selection for Harrogate no later than the start of March, and will provide competition for places in the Rudding Lane side’s already formidable back row.
“Jack is a brilliant flanker, but can also play at number eight,” Doherty added.
“I’ve played alongside him in the Championship and he impressed me then, so I’m sure that he has plenty to offer at our level. He has experience of playing at a higher standard that I’m sure the other players in the squad will benefit from.
“That said, with the Coser brothers and the other boys in the back row playing so well at the moment, nobody is going to walk into our side.
“The competition for places can only be a good thing for us.”
Barnard was released by Carnegie at the end of last season, and has been the subject of a number of big-money offers from other clubs.
Yet his decision to return to Harrogate for “all the right reasons” has left Doherty delighted.
“We don’t have a huge playing budget here, and Jack could earn significantly more playing elsewhere, but he’s coming back because he knows that Rudding Lane is a good place for him to develop his own game and improve as a player,” Doherty added.
“His brother, Harry, has established himself as a 1st XV regular, and I’m sure that the opportunity to play alongside him also appealed.”