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'Positive sign': England newcomer Atkinson sticks with Gloucester

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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Newly capped England midfielder Mark Atkinson has agreed to a multi-year contract extension at rejuvenated Gloucester, who have been flying up the Gallagher Premiership table in recent weeks. The sight of the 31-year-old Atkinson stepping off the bench versus Tonga last month was one in the eye for all the commentary about young guns making their England breakthrough.

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It was in September, shortly after Atkinson was picked in that month’s England training squad, that club boss Skivington explained why his 30-something player was very worthy of Test level recognition.

“Last season he was probably the best ball-in-hand twelve in the league,” enthused Skivington at a weekly Gloucester media briefing. “I did speak to Eddie Jones last year and I knew he was on the radar. He [Atkinson] probably was disappointed he didn’t get any involvement in the summer so delighted for him. Hopefully, he gets an opportunity.”

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Atkinson did, playing 22 minutes off the England bench in the opening win of the Autumn Nations Series, and his progress has now been rewarded by Gloucester, who have agreed to an unspecified length contract extension with a player who first played for them in 2014/15 and now has more than 150 appearances. 

Skivington said: “Mark works really hard and is the sort of character that makes a really big contribution to the squad here at Gloucester. He has recently been rewarded with an England cap and the way he has come back into the squad and really pushed on further makes his re-signing really exciting for us.”

Alex Brown, the chief operating officer at Gloucester, added: “Mark has been an integral part of the Gloucester squad for a number of years now and has become a real leader. We know that the culture we are building here is extremely exciting and players like Mark committing his future to Kingsholm is a hugely positive sign for the direction we are heading in.”

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