HOOLEY AND PACKMAN HEAD TO BEDFORD
Bedford Blues building process for the 2017/18 Championship season has continued with the signing of two impressive young backs.
Heading to Goldington Road next season will be Exeter Chiefs fly half Will Hooley and Northampton Saints winger Howard Packman.
Cambridge born Hooley, 24, is a former England Under 20 international who came through the Acadmey system at Northampton Saints before going on to make 14 first team appearances and scoring 77 points.
It was this, along with a successful dual-registration with Birmingham Moseley, that attracted the Exeter Chiefs and Hooley was brought in to provide top quality competition for the No.10 role alongside Gareth Steenson and Henry Slade. He made his debut for the Chiefs against Clermont Auvergne in the 2015 Champions Cup and most recently featured in the Chiefs 36-14 Premiership win over Newcastle Falcons.
Packman, 21, joined Bedford on loan in January but has now made the move a permanent one following some impressive displays in a Blues jersey.
Howard is a Northampton lad whose father Frank made 376 appearnces for the Saints between 1982 and 1996 scoring 178 tries along the way. Howard took up the game of rugby at the young age of five at Wellingborough RFC before moving to Old Northamptonians two years later. His lightning pace and the ability to change direction at speed saw him progress through the Saints Academy and Howard made seven appearances for his hometown club scoring four tries in the process.
The speedster has represented England at Under 16, Under-17 and Under-18 levels as well featuring in every match in the 2014 Under 20s Six Nations Championship. Howard has also played for England Sevens in the 2014 HSBC Sevens World Series in Glasgow and London, and was also part of the victorious IRB Junior World Championship squad in New Zealand, scoring the try of the tournament against Ireland for good measure.
Speaking about the signings, Blues Director of Rugby Mike Rayer said: "With the departure of Myles Dorrian, it was vitally important that we brought in a talented number ten and I think that Will fits the bill perfectly. He has developed superbly during his time with the Saints and Exeter as well as having Championship experience with two seasons at Birmingham Moseley. I think that his style of play is perfect for Bedford and I'm sure the fans will love seeing him in action next season.
"Howard is a wonderful player and over the last few months we've really seen what he's all about and the hunger that he has on the field. Despite his young age, Howard has a very mature attitude to the game and I'm excited about seeing him really kicking on for us next season."
The new signings move the Blues squad for 2017/18 up to 22 players as Will and Howard join Chris Czekaj, Lee Dickson (Saints), George Edgson (Wasps), Sean McCarthy (Jersey), Alex Penny (Ealing Trailfinders), Alex Rae (Jersey) and Jarad Williams (Doncaster Knights) in signing for nest season while Ben Adams, Dean Adamson, Justin Blanchet, Josh Buggea, Jordan Burns, Will Carrick-Smith, Elliot Clements-Hill, Ben Cooper, Ollie Dodge, Michael Le Bourgeois, Camilo Parilli-Ocampo, Ed Taylor and Paul Tupai have all put pen to paper on new deals.