Leeds lay foundations for next tilt at returning to top with new deals

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Leeds Carnegie have secured the future of Headingley’s best youngsters as the Championship club plan for next season.

Head coach Diccon Edwards has moved swiftly to tie down prospects such as forward Richard Beck, 22, on a two-year deal while hookers Scott Freer, 23, and Harry Hannan, 20, have both agreed one-year extensions.

Beck made 25 appearances this season, including 10 starts, while Freer and Hannan established themselves in the first-team squad.

Prop Mark Tampin, 20, who made his debut in the British & Irish Cup, has been retained for next season while scrum-half Craig Hampson, 21, who finished the season as first choice No 9, has also agreed a new one-year deal.

Centre Joe Barker, 20, who has been with Leeds since he was 13, has signed a two-year deal while prop Mo Mustafa – who impressed after arriving at Headingley on a short-term deal – has agreed a contract extension for next season having made 14 appearances this term.

Edwards said: “It was important for us to secure our best young talent for next season before we began our recruitment process for next season.

“Richard, Scott, Craig, Joe and Mo will have gained significantly from the amount of game time they have had this season while Harry has worked hard to recover from injury in mid-season after impressing at both hooker and in the back row, and Mark is a developing young prop.

“Having already announced new deals for Chris Walker and Jacob Rowan it is particularly pleasing to have agreed new contracts with these seven players,” added Edwards.

Phil Dowson will captain England in Sunday’s non-cap international against the Barbarians at Twickenham. The Northampton No 8 takes over from Chris Robshaw, who leads Harlequins against Leicester in the Aviva Premiership final the previous day.