Life for Championship club Doncaster following the decision by Clive Griffiths to step away as director of rugby after nine years is beginning to take shape, Billy McBryde, the 23-year-old son of ex-Wales assistant coach Robin, becoming the seventh player to take up an offer from new Knights boss Steve Boden.
With former Leicester Tigers player Joe Ford also on board as backs coach on a two-year deal following a short-lived stint at Yorkshire Carnegie, Doncaster are beginning to piece things together for the 2020/21 Championship season and McBryde is their latest arrival in a recruitment drive that began in April following a truncated season that ended with Knights finishing in 11th spot following a five-point deduction for using an unregistered agent when signing prop Dan Suter last year.
Utility back James Kane was signed two months ago from NSW Country Eagles. He was followed by the Jersey duo of midfielder Mark Best and back row Conor Joyce along with Northampton scrum-half James Mitchell. Then came Nottingham loosehead Tom Hill and Bristol back row Sam Graham before the signing of McBryde from Welsh Premiership side RGC 1404.
All the deals are for one year, bar the two-year contract for Hill and the one-plus-one agreement with Best. “Billy is a great fit for us as a developing team, he has a very strong and varied kicking game which we really like,” said Boden on the Doncaster club website after McBryde was confirmed as the Knights’ 19th player now under contract for the new season.
“We feel Billy has a lot of areas to grow, which is exciting with the drive and ambition he has – particularly working alongside Joe Ford. Billy will give us great balance and drive competition in the fly-half position with Sam Olver, which can only be a good thing for the team and for both players as individuals.”
McBryde made a Scarlets debut versus Bath in an Anglo-Welsh Cup match and represented Wales at U20s before joining RCG for the 2018/19 season. He immediately became a fixture in their side, playing 50 consecutive matches and was top-scorer in the Welsh Premiership’s recently prematurely ended season.
“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to be part of a new-look Knights squad and testing myself in a tough league,” said McBryde. “Even after my first conversation with Steve, the ambition he had for the club was clear and I’m looking forward to linking up with the staff and players and putting on the Knights jersey for the upcoming season.”
McBryde’s switch to England mirrors his father’s decision to also recently leave Wales, Robin opting to take up a scrum coach role at Leinster in Ireland after lengthy service as part of the Warren Gatland’s national team set-up.
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