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London Irish confirm names of the 12 players who are leaving

By Liam Heagney
Ollie Hassell-Collins (centre) said his goodbyes on Saturday (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

London Irish have confirmed that a dozen players will be departing the Gallagher Premiership club now that their 2022/23 season has drawn to a close. The Exiles rounded off their campaign with a 17-14 home win over Exeter to seal a fifth-place league finish and the final whistle coincided with the club naming its 12 leavers – 10 full-timers and two injury dispensation signings.

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A statement read: “Departing players – Isaac Curtis-Harris, Facundo Gigena, Ollie Hassell-Collins, Isaac Miller, Hugh O’Sullivan, Tom Parton, Rob Simmons, James Stokes, Mike Willemse, Giosue Zilocchi. Injury dispensation cover – Kyle Cooper, Logan Trotter.

“London Irish can today confirm the club’s departing players upon the conclusion of the 2022/23 season. Back row forward and senior academy graduate Isaac Curtis-Harris will depart after amassing 27 appearances to take up a new opportunity elsewhere.

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“After three seasons in west London, Argentina international Facundo Gigena will call time on his stay in the capital and move onto pastures new after earning 48 appearances for Irish. England international Ollie Hassell-Collins will make a switch to Leicester ahead of the 2023/24 season after five years of involvement as a senior Exile. Ollie accrued 102 caps and 43 tries scored for the team he joined as part of the ACE programme as a schoolboy.

“The 28-year-old hooker Isaac Miller signed in the 2022 off-season from Worcester Warriors and scored twice in the six occasions representing the club. Playing a vital part in consecutive runs to the Premiership Rugby Cup finals, Hugh O’Sullivan will leave London Irish this summer having adorned the green jersey 24 times.

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“Tom Parton will make the move north of the capital to Saracens for next season, the academy graduate scoring 105 points for Irish in 72 games. The ex-England U20 international progressed through the academy at Hazelwood and was called into an England training squad last summer.

“Current member of the leadership group, Rob Simmons, will move across the English Channel to link up with Top 14 side Clermont after three campaigns and 64 appearances as an Exile. After 57 appearances and 12 tries, versatile back James Stokes will seek a new adventure after joining midway through the 2019/20 campaign from Coventry.

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“Mike Willemse made 18 appearances in his final term for London Irish after signing ahead of the 2021/22 season, adding to a respectable haul of 33 across two campaigns. Giosue Zilocchi will head back to his home country of Italy to continue his rugby journey with Benetton after an injury-hampered spell with Irish that meant the 26-year-old was restricted from playing for the club.

“Logan Trotter and Kyle Cooper, both signed as injury dispensation cover, will also leave with the club’s thanks and well wishes. First-year Academy players Louie Kirkham, Oran Murphy and Oliver Stirling conclude their time in west London at the end of the current season.”

London Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney said: “On behalf of the club, I would like to thank all of our departing players for their collective commitment to the jersey throughout their respective spells. Departures are an unfortunate part of the game, but all of these players have been a huge credit to themselves, their families and the club in the way they have conducted themselves as Exiles.

“We say goodbye to both youthful and experienced players, with our sincere thanks to not only the players, but also to their families and friends for their commitment and dedication to London Irish over the tenure of their time at Hazelwood, Brentford and Reading.”

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