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Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club sign George Hardy, Jonah Varela and Leroy O'Neil ahead of new National League campaign



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Jacob Ford believes the latest three additions to his Bury St Edmunds squad is proof of the versatility that now exists within the club’s recruitment policy.

While the head coach and director of rugby is not against bringing in experienced players – highlighted by this week’s arrival of George Hardy – he is also keen to add some youthful exuberance to the ranks and in Jonah Varela and Leroy O’Neil, Ford is confident he has recruited two players with very bright futures.

“We’re doing it slightly differently to how the club has done things in the past,” said Ford.

Jacob Ford has made three additions to his Bury St Edmunds squad this week. Picture: Mark Westley
Jacob Ford has made three additions to his Bury St Edmunds squad this week. Picture: Mark Westley

“We’ve already got a good core of experienced players in key positions that we can trust.

“What we were keen to add is some young and hungry players that will add some energy, desire and hunger.

“Young lads are like sponges and they’ll try to implement everything you tell them.

“We want Bury to be renowned for their development of players and we’ve got the right coaches to help them along.”

Like Ford, Varela will arrive at the GK IPA Haberden with a background in rugby league.

He has been on the books of London Broncos, yet Ford believes he will have no issue with switching codes.

“Jonah has been part of a very good Broncos set-up,” said Ford. “He’s got plenty of talent and will be pretty versatile playing anywhere in the back three.

“It’s going to be a different challenge, the game is played differently after all, but I come from a rugby league background and hopefully that means I’ll be able to pre-empt any issues that he might have.

“But he’s got plenty of ability and I don’t see it being a problem.”

O’Neil, meanwhile, is a loosehead prop that has spent time as a member of the Northampton Saints Academy.

“Leroy will be in our front row,” added Ford. “He’s someone that really has the ability to kick on and play at a higher level.

“Hopefully we can provide him with a platform, giving him plenty of game time at a decent standard of rugby.”

As for Hardy, the scrum-half is more of a seasoned campaigner from spells with the likes of Wanstead and Carmarthen Athletic.

Ford added: “George is an experienced number nine, which is something we’ve not had before. He’s been around the leagues and played a good level of university rugby as well.

“We’ve got young half backs but what George will provide is some real know-how. He gives us more options in an area where we really need it.”