12:00pm Tuesday 27th July 2004
SPEED king Nnamdi Ezulike is to spearhead Worcester Rugby Club's title challenge next season after signing from London Irish.
The 25-year-old has penned a deal designed to keep him at Sixways until 2004 after snubbing an offer to stay in the Premiership with Northampton.
Ezulike, who is Nigerian born but qualifies as an English player, brings a reputation of being one of the quickest wingers in the English game and with Chris Garrard, Duncan Roke and Ben Hinshelwood will provide a real headache for the rest of National One.
And head coach John Brain was delighted with his latest acquisition.
"His main quality is pace," he said. "He is very, very quick and a proven finisher, a proven try-scorer in the Premiership. Nnamdi is strong, his contact skills are good and one of the main factors next season will obviously be finishing power and the ability to amass bonus points. We certainly see him enhancing that part of our game."
Ezulike, a former Leicester Tiger, arrives at Worcester after the departures of Winston Stanley, Sateki Tuipulotu and Alistair Murdoch. However, Brain believes the former England A star can more than fill their boots on the wing.
"He's just recently been involved in the England Sevens squad," added Brain. "His quality is simply not in doubt and we believe it is London Irish's loss and our gain."
Brain was also delighted to have beaten off interest from Premiership clubs in his pursuit of Ezulike.
"He could have stayed in the Premiership because there was a lot of interest," he said.
"Because we were able to register our interest early on, I think he felt he'd got a firm offer from Worcester. He was confident in our ability, the players we are signing and the squad we are putting together to come to Worcester rather than wait for other offers from the Premiership.
"This is not a traditional Worcester signing of old. We recognise we need a squad that will do the job next year and also when we get into the Premiership. Nnamdi is a very hungry player and at 25, there is still a lot more to come.
"It's great to have quality wingers. Chris Garrard has been among the tries all year and with Nnamdi you have raw pace, power and finishing prowess. This is a very positive signing."
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group