Albion seal dual registered deals with Chiefs quartet
YOUNG England internationals Henry Slade, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Jack Arnott will continue their rugby development with Plymouth Albion next season.
The trio were dual registered with Albion last season from Premiership neighbours Exeter Chiefs.
And the two Devon clubs have agreed to continue that arrangement for the 2012-13 campaign.
They will be joined at Brickfields by prop Lloyd Fairbrother, who will also be dual registered with Albion from Exeter.
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Plymouth-born fly-half Slade and prop Cowan-Dickie are currently in South Africa playing for England Under-20s in the IRB Junior World Cup.
Both players had their first seasons at Albion hampered by injury.
Cowan-Dickie was injured at the beginning of the campaign, while former Plymouth College star Slade (pictured right) picked up back and knee injuries after just two promising Championship starts for his hometown club and did not feature again.
City wing Arnott, who was called into the England Under-20 squad last season after impressing for the Under-18s, featured for Albion towards the end of last season while still a student at Ivybridge Community College. He has since signed a professional contract with Exeter.
Twenty-year-old Fairbrother, a year older than Slade and Cowan-Dickie, has already tasted life at two other Championship clubs, as well as at Division Two South side Redruth.
"He was dual registered with the Pirates last year, but did not play much, so he went to Moseley and we played against him in the second half of the season," said Albion coach Nat Saumi.
Championship clubs can play up to six dual registered or loan players in their matchday squad and Saumi admits he still hopes to add more Premiership academy players to his squad.
"Cowan-Dickie, Fairbrother, Jack Arnott and Henry Slade are the four who are confirmed," said Saumi.
However, the Albion coach is keen not to rely on just Exeter.
"We could look at different options," he said.
"We have a good link with Worcester, so we could have some from there.
"We are also trying to link up with Gloucester. Our main negotiator there was John Brain, who sadly died recently. He was trying to get us some dual registrations, but now he has passed away.
"We have let it calm down a bit, but we will have a conversation with them again later."
Saumi, meanwhile, believes he will have enough prop cover now for next season with Cowan-Dickie and Fairbrother backing up Ryan Hopkins, Jack Andrew and David Morton.
The Albion boss feels he will also be okay for options in the fly-half position.
"We'll have Paul Roberts and Henry Slade, while Paul Bailey can also play there. And there is also a youngster from Sidmouth, Tom Whelan, who is willing to come over as a fly-half or full-back.
"He has been recommended by Nic Sestaret."