YORKSHIRE Carnegie have received a major boost ahead of tomorrow’s British & Irish Cup semi-final against Jersey Trailfinders with news highly-rated Doncaster Knights No8 Ollie Stedman will return to the club next season.
The 24-year-old has been an integral part of Doncaster’s impressive rise up the Championship this term, proving a thorn for opponents with his strong carrying and also proving a prolific try-scorer, too.
Stedman was originally at Headingley as a teenager having moved north from Basingstoke to attend the University of Leeds and was part of the Academy side that represented the club in the Yorkshire Cup, defeating Beverley in the 2008-09 final. He only played two senior games for the club, however, coming off the bench against the Scarlets and Gloucester in the LV=Cup during 2010-11.
Stedman played alongside current England internationals George Ford, Elliot Daly and Maku Vunipola in the England Under-20 Junior World Championships and went on to help both Newcastle Falcons and London Welsh win promotion into the Premiership – Carnegie’s ultimate aim.
Head coach Bryan Redpath admitted: “We are pleased to have added a player of Ollie’s experience to the squad for next season.
“He has been at the club before and has gone away and impressed as a ball-carrying back-rower.
“He will add to the group we have and that will be important for us next season.”
Before that, however, come Jersey at Headingley as Carnegie seek to reach the B&I Cup final for the second time in just three years.
They have defeated their Championship rivals already this season, winning 39-22 at home on the opening day, and are augmented with the return of highly-rated full-back Jonah Holmes.
The former Wasps star’s arrival means England Under-20s international Taylor Prell reverts to the wing in place of former Jersey wideman David Doherty.
Ex-Leeds Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield starts at fly-half, while the only other change to the starting line-up sees loosehead prop Charlie Beech preferred to Lee Imiolek, who is among the replacements along with Phil Nilsen, the hooker back having missed the last three weeks of action.
Carnegie, still well-placed for a top-four finish and a subsequent stab at promotion this season, lost to Leinster A at Dublin in the 2013-14 B&I Cup final but hope to go a step further this time around.
The final will be an all-Championship affair for the second successive season given London Welsh host Cornish Pirates in the other last four meeting today. Doncaster lost 35-5 at home to Worcester Warriors in last year’s final which saw Ireland’s recent domination of the competition end, Munster A (2011-12) and Leinster A (2012-13 and 2013-14) having proved victorious previously.