Leicester Tigers hooker George McGuigan will re-join Newcastle Falcons from next season, the England Saxons international returning to the club he left two years ago.
McGuigan, 25, became the first graduate of the Falcons’ AASE programme to play for Newcastle’s first team, making 69 appearances over three years, of which 53 came in the Aviva Premiership.
Playing for England Saxons in 2016, McGuigan made 28 appearances in his first season at Leicester Tigers and is preparing to re-join the Falcons after overcoming the neck injury which has ruled him out of much of the current campaign.
Explaining the decision to return to his native North East, the former Darlington RFC junior said: “The way the Falcons are going at the moment is the main thing, playing an attractive brand of rugby, scoring tries and winning games on a regular basis. They’ve really developed that edge in terms of knowing how to close out the tight games and you have to have a huge amount of respect for the work they’ve put in to be able to do that.
“Being closer to home is an added bonus and I have a lot of friends who are still at the club, but I’ve been watching all the Falcons’ games on the TV and enjoying the rugby they’re playing. I left under very different circumstances to how I’m coming back, but I’m looking forward to it and can’t wait to get started.
“I came through the academy at Newcastle and I’ve always felt a strong connection with the club. I’m looking forward to getting back into the groove, enjoying my rugby again and fighting for a place in the team, which I know won’t come easily with the quality of guys they have up there.”
Returning to Kingston Park Stadium with two years’ worth of knowhow from his spell at Leicester Tigers, McGuigan said: “My first year was really good but this season I’ve been unlucky with injuries, and hopefully I can get a couple more games between now and the end of the campaign and come into pre-season flying.
“I got an unfortunate neck injury around Christmas time which needed an operation and put me out for a big chunk of the season, but I’m back now and battling hard for selection for the last few games here. I’ll obviously give my all for Tigers as long as I’m still a Leicester player, and then look forward to linking up again with the Falcons for pre-season.”
Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards expressed his delight at sealing McGuigan’s return, saying: “We have always rated George as a player and were disappointed when he originally decided to leave the club two years ago.
“We have continued our development as a team since then, George has experienced something different down at Leicester and from both sides of the equation it is a move which makes sense. We know what George has to offer, he knows what this club is about and we’ll look forward to welcoming him back for pre-season training over the summer.”
McGuigan becomes the Falcons’ fourth confirmed new signing for the 2018-19 season following the arrivals of Logovi’i Mulipola (Leicester Tigers), Tom Arscott (Rouen) and Guy Graham (Hawick). Season ticket memberships are available by calling 0871 226 6060.