Glasgow Warriors have today laid further foundations for a bright future, securing three talented young players on extended Scottish Rugby Elite Development contracts that could lead to full professional terms.
Prop George Hunter, Lock Robert McAlpine and scrum-half Murray McConnell have agreed fresh deals that will see them continue in the Elite Development system next season.
As with the other players in the programme, the trio will continue to benefit from training with the main Warriors squad, while receiving support from the club’s Elite Development coach Iain Monaghan and other specialist coaches.
Hunter and McConnell were both among the substitutes for last night’s 19-9 RaboDirect PRO12 win over Scarlets at Firhill, a result that saw the Warriors climb to third in the tournament table.
McConnell, who came through the ranks at Lenzie Academy, West of Scotland and Ayr, made his debut against the men from Llanelli last month. Hunter, a product of Robert Gordon’s College, Aberdeen Wanderers and Glasgow Hawks, and McAlpine, who has seen service with Glasgow Academy and West of Scotland as well as Stirling County, are closing in on their first taste of action in the black and blue.
All three players have come through the National Pathway programme.
Their progress is a further boost for the Elite Development programme, from which Finlay Gillies and Stuart Hogg have already advanced to claim full professional contracts this season.
Full-back/centre Hogg has impressed in the RaboDirect PRO12 and Heineken Cup to the extent that he is in the
Scotland 22 for the RBS 6 Nations Championship match away to Wales on Sunday, having scored a sensational try on debut for Scotland A against England Saxons last Friday.
A further Elite Development player, lock Nick Campbell, was voted the supporters’ September 2011 McCrea Financial Services Player of the Month in association with Hotel du Vin.
The one-time Alan Glen’s, Cartha Queens Park and Glasgow Hawks man has since been recovering from a knee injury, but was also among the replacements for last night’s win.
Monaghan told www.glasgowwarriors.org: “We’ve been really pleased that so many guys in the Elite Development programme have earned inclusion in the Warriors team by working hard and making sacrifices to understand what it takes to be a professional player.
“These guys are really benefiting from regular involvement with the senior squad on the training pitch, while also receiving great support from specialist coaches to ensure they continue to hone their skills.
“I’m delighted that George, Robert and Murray will have the opportunity to remain in the programme next season. They’re players that I and the other coaches here have high hopes for, and if they keep showing a desire to work hard and improve, they’ve got a real chance to make progress in the game.”
Head coach Sean Lineen added: “A good number of the younger players have stood up and been counted this season, which bodes really well for the future of Glasgow Warriors.
“The whole coaching team are looking forward to working with them to ensure they fulfil their undoubted potential.”
After a trip to Connacht next Saturday, the Warriors' next home game in their RaboDirect PRO12 play-off push is against the reigning European champions Leinster at Firhill on Saturday 25 February (kick-off 6pm).
Tickets for the game are available via www.glasgowwarriors.org, by calling 0844 800 3490, or in person at the Gordon Street and Sauchiehall Street branches of Greaves Sports, our official retail partner.