EDINBURGH RUGBY: Two ‘Tahs gun for Edinburgh
New signings Grayson Hart [left] and Ollie Atikins [right].
Edinburgh Rugby today confirmed a southern-hemisphere swoop for Scottish-qualified Waratahs duo Ollie Atkins (lock) and Grayson Hart (scrum-half), subject to medical examination.
The pair are the first new signings to be confirmed following the recent appointment of head coach Alan Solomons, arriving this week after the conclusion of the Super Rugby season.
Managing Director, David Davies, said: “It gives me great pleasure to add even more quality, Scottish-qualified talent to the Edinburgh Rugby ranks. Both of these players have a huge amount to offer this club long term.
“A lot of work is going on behind the scenes to secure the right calibre of player and I believe we’re now beginning to see the fruits of these labours.”
After impressing in the recent Shute Shield finals series for Sydney University, including the 2012 Grand Final win over Southern Districts, 24-year-old Atkins was added to the Tahs’ 2013 roster and went on to face the British & Irish Lions this summer.
His arrival signals a return to Scottish soil, having plied his trade just two miles from Murrayfield at Raeburn Place when he turned out for Edinburgh Accies
2nd XV during a gap year in 2007.
Considered a stand out for his work rate and impact around the ground, the lock – who qualifies for Scotland through his father, Michael Atkins, from Dunbar – is renowned for putting his 18st 6lb, 6’6″ frame to good use across the field.
He said: “I’m really excited to be back in Edinburgh and even more excited to get the boots on and get out there and start playing some footie.
“The opportunity to play against some of the top teams in Europe will be a fantastic challenge.
“I loved the city and people when I was here six years ago so, when I got the chance to return in a professional sporting environment, I just jumped at it and couldn’t wait to get over here.”
New Zealand-born Hart, Scottish by virtue of his grandmother Nancy Harvey, from Glasgow, represented his country of birth at under-19 and under-20 alongside Scotland internationalist Sean Maitland, and made his NPC debut for Auckland aged 19.
He went on to play Super Rugby for the Blues, debuting against the Bulls in 2009, before crossing the Tasman Sea to Sydney on the advice of former All Blacks coach and uncle John Hart.
The scrum-half was rewarded with a starting spot for the Waratahs’ penultimate match of the 2012 season against the Brumbies before earning a place in the senior squad in 2013.
He said: “It’s hugely exciting to be in Edinburgh, I can’t believe what an amazing city I’m surrounded by. It’s great to be here and I’m really looking forward to representing the capital. It’ll be a huge honour.
“It’s a big goal of mine to put in some consistently solid performances into the RaboDirect PRO12 and Heineken Cup, they’re very exciting competitions at a high level which I’d put right alongside Super Rugby.
“It’s going to be a massive challenge. There are some very talented guys in my position so I’m definitely looking forward to what lays ahead.”
Ollie Atkins (24), second-row
Date of birth: 12/08/1988), in Hobart, Australia
Height: 200cm (6’6″), weight: 117kg (18st 6lb)
Super Rugby Caps: 3 [Western Force 2, HSBC Waratahs 1], debut v Blues [Western Force] in 2012.
Grayson Hart (25), scrum-half
Date of birth: 19/06/1988 in Kaitaia, New Zealand
Height: 185cm (6′ 1″), weight: 91kg (15st 2lb)
Super Rugby Caps: 9 [Auckland Blues 7, HSBC Waratahs 2], debut v Bulls [Auckland Blues] in 2009