NEWCASTLE Falcons’ recruitment and retention drive has made a flying start with the news burgeoning wing prospect Zach Kibirige has committed his future to the club.
The England age-group international made a scoring debut for the Falcons just a week before his 18th birthday with a try against Cross Keys.
He has nailed his colours to the Newcastle mast in a move indicative of the club’s resurgence.
Director of rugby Dean Richards was positively purring about the prospects of the Middlesbrough-born flyer, who has a 100% strike rate after also racing 80 metres for a try in his second start against Rotherham.
He said of the Yarm School pupil: “Zach is a very promising young lad who has been involved with the club since he was 12 and it is great news he has signed up with us.
“He offers speed, has quick feet, his anticipation is good and he is a true finisher.
“He handles the ball well, is a good footballer and I think he will go a long way.
“He has a very mature outlook for such a young guy and he understands the game very well.”
Kibirige is one of many to have graduated from the Falcons’ academy, although the club have been a victim of predatory forces in past seasons in retaining their top talent. And Richards added: “It is massively important, especially when you look around the Premiership and see so many players from this region who are starring for other clubs.
“If you put them all together you could make a heck of a team and it is a shame for the club so many of those guys felt they had to move on.
“The Falcons have always brought good players through and the real key to the future growth here is keeping them up here.
“We have a really good feeling around the club right now.
“The boys are enjoying each other’s company and we have had a number on international duty last month.
“Those things are all considerations for players and it is about giving them an environment that they want to be part of.”
With his protege set to mix the rugby field with the lecture theatre as part of a balanced outlook, Richards said: “Zach is an academic lad who has done well at school.
“When his contract was talked about we sat down with him and his father to discuss the responsibilities around his education.
“It is an important consideration and very much part of growing up, but in sheer rugby terms he is a definite talent and it is fantastic he sees his future here.”
Richards and his side, already 12 points clear at the top of the Championship, aim to extend their unbeaten run still further when they play host to London Scottish on Sunday in their first televised encounter of the campaign.
Newcastle were 49-32 winners when the two teams met in the capital in September, although the director of rugby has few fond memories after a notable second-half lapse.
He said: “It would be fair to say that was one of our biggest hiccups this season and even despite winning the game it was not especially pleasing.
“What disappointed us was shipping a four-try bonus point for what has turned out to be the only time this season.” Fly-half Jimmy Gopperth could make his 100th appearance for the Falcons on Sunday, although the Kiwi fly-half limped out of last weekend’s 93-0 win over Newport and will be given time to prove his fitness.