Newcastle Falcons have announced the signing of England Under-20s back-rower Josh Basham on a three-year deal.
The 19-year-old joins the Falcons with immediate effect, but is not expected to play for the club this season while he recovers from an ankle operation.
Director of rugby Dean Richards said: “Josh is an outstanding young talent and we look forward to working with him once he has completed his rehab, but he is with us at the moment in preparation for that.”
Basham, who started for England Under-20s in last summer’s Junior World Championship final, is currently in his first year studying for an economics degree at Durham University.
A product of the London Irish Academy, the Buckinghamshire-born forward won three Daily Mail Trophies with Wellington College and captained England at Under-18s level, also helping London Irish to the Academy League title.
Standing at 6 foot 3 and weighing 104kg, Basham was a key figure for the England Under-20s team which lost narrowly to France in last summer’s Junior World Championship final, but was forced to miss the Six Nations following an ankle operation in January.
He said: “Newcastle Falcons have got a great reputation for promoting young talent, I like the way they play the game and it’s fantastic to have signed for the club.
“I’m able to combine my rugby programme with my studies at Durham University, which is great, and a number of the Falcons boys have done the same in recent years. I started my degree in September, I’m really enjoying it up here and it’s a major bonus that I am now able to combine that with a professional rugby contract.”
Outlining his injury situation as he looks forward to being fit for the start of pre-season, Basham said: “I had an operation at the end of January on my ankle, and I’m hopefully just a month or so away from completing my rehab.
“I’ve signed for three years and I’m hoping to really fly into pre-season – I know quite a few of the boys here from Durham Uni and England age-group stuff, and everyone has been very welcoming.”
Asked which position he prefers playing, the back-row man added: “Blind-side flanker is probably where I’m most effective and I’ve played No 8 as well, but I’ll basically play anywhere if the coaches feel it’s for the good of the team.
“I just can’t wait to get into things properly once I’ve completed my rehab, and I’m really happy to have joined up with the Falcons.”