Six players sign professional contracts at Saints

Pictures by Linda Dawson
Pictures by Linda Dawson
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Saints have confirmed that six players will make the step up to the Senior Academy next season.

Tom Emery, James Grayson, Devante Onojaife, Ehren Painter, Alex Rayment and Toby Trinder have all put pen to paper on their first professional contract.

Emery is a scrum-half who has been studying at St Joseph’s College and has come through the Eastern Counties Elite Player Development Group (EPDG).

He represent the Saints in the 2015 Singha Premiership Rugby Sevens Series and this year’s Bury St Edmunds Sevens, as well as in the Mobbs Memorial Match.

Grayson, son of Saints’ all-time record points scorer Paul Grayson, also played in the Mobbs Memorial Match, as well as representing England Under-18 during the past season.

A fly-half, Grayson played first-team rugby for Old Northamptonians in National League 3 (Midlands) in 2015/16, scoring 36 points.

Onojaife is following his elder brother Jordan into the Saints’ Senior Academy.

After converting from the back row to loosehead prop, Onojaife has gone from strength to strength, playing for England Under-18.

Painter is another England Under-18 prop, this time on the tighthead side.

Another player to have come through the Eastern Counties EPDG, Painter was a regular in the Saints Under-18 team that competed in the Premiership Rugby Academies League.

Rayment has also come through the Eastern Counties EPDG to represent the Under-18 teams of both the Saints and England.

After representing the Saints in last year’s Singha Premiership Rugby Sevens Series, he made the step up into a senior team for the Mobbs Memorial Match and has been a part of the Wanderers’ matchday squad in the Aviva ‘A’ League.

Trinder is the final Eastern Counties prop to step up to the full-time ranks.

A convert from the back row into the front row, he has played for Ipswich Rugby Club as well as being selected in the England Under-17 squad.

Senior Academy coach Mark Hopley believes that all of the players possess plenty of potential and is looking forward to seeing them develop at Franklin’s Gardens.

“We’re in the fortunate position to have plenty of competition for places in the Senior Academy,” Hopley said.

“All of the players who are coming in have earned their contracts not just through their ability but also their positive attitude and work ethic throughout their time in the EPDG and Junior Academy.

“They are all under no illusions that getting a contract is just the beginning; it’s now up to them to continue working hard and show that they deserve a place in our full-time squad.”