Burnell: Down can rise up with Welsh

Overhaul: London Welsh head coach Justin Burnell has recruited heavily this summer

Overhaul: London Welsh head coach Justin Burnell has recruited heavily this summer

First published in Sport by

Head coach Justin Burnell has backed lock James Down to satep up a level at London Welsh this season.

The 26-year-old lock switched to Old Deer Park this week from Cardiff Blues to become the exiles’ 24th signing of the summer.

Down was first discovered by Burnell as a 16-year-old at the coach’s former club Llantwit Fardre in South Wales from where he joined the Blues’ academy set-up.

The 6ft 7in second row has been an integral part of the Blues pack since making his debut in 2006 and although a broken leg against Racing Metro in 2011 hampered his progress, he was called in to the Wales squad for the autumn internationals in 2012.

And Burnell reckons international honours are not far away.

“I always thought James had a huge amount of potential, which he obviously did,” he said.

“Coming through the Blues system he played alongside the likes of Bradley Davies and Lou Reed, who have both gone on to be full internationals. I still believe James has the potential to do that.

“He’s played a lot of rugby in different competitions with Cardiff Blues and he’s another fantastic addition to our squad.

“He’s very much in the Matt Corker mould and like Matt he’s got a great understanding of the lineout and the kick off, and he’s very good in the contact area.

“I’m really pleased to have someone of his calibre on board.”

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