Albion set up deals to bring Exeter prospects back to Plymouth
Young England internationals Henry Slade, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Jack Arnott will continue their rugby development with Plymouth Albion next season.
The Exeter Chiefs trio were dual-registered with the Championship last season from their Aviva Premiership neighbours. The two Devon clubs have agreed to continue that arrangement during the 2012-13 campaign. They will be joined at Brickfields by prop Lloyd Fairbrother, who will also be dual-registered with Albion from Exeter.
Plymouth-born fly-half Slade and prop Cowan-Dickie are currently in South Africa playing for England's Under-20 squad 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 picked up back and knee injuries after just two promising Championship starts for his home-town club and did not feature again.
Plymothian winger Arnott, who was called into the England Under-20 squad last season after impressing for the Under-18 squad, 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," said Albion coach Nat Saumi.
Championship clubs can place up to six dual-registered or loan players in their matchday squads and Saumi admitted that 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, who is keen not to rely on just Exeter. "We could look at different options," he added.
"We have a good link with Worcester, so we could have some from there. We are also trying to link up with Gloucester."
Albion are set to play Aviva Premiership outfit Worcester Warriors in pre-season.
The pre-season match at Sixways has been pencilled in for Friday, August 24, and should be one of four games for Albion before their Championship opener against Doncaster Knights on September 1.
Exmouth have said they will be visiting Brickfields on Saturday, August 18, while National Two South sides the Cornish All Blacks and Taunton are believed to be in discussions about fixtures.