Doncaster Knights snap up Ulster star Jerry Cronin

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DONCASTER Knights’ boss Brett Davey has moved swiftly to fill the void left at tight-head prop by signing Ulster front-rower Jerry Cronin.

Cronin, 28, has spent most of his career with Ballynahinch RFC before getting a break in his home province in 2010, making his senior debut against Munster.

He went on to make 11 appearances that season and earned his first start against Connacht in the final Magners League game of the regular season.

The Irishman impressed Davey with his mobility and high tackle count, whilst proving a solid asset at the set piece.

He consistently held his own in the scrum and is set to battle it out for a starting berth with the emerging prospect Tomas Francis.

“Jerry is exactly the kind of player we wanted to bring in,” said Davey. His experience with Ulster is a big plus and he is sure to fight hard for his place in the side.

“He wanted an opportunity in Championship rugby and will battle it out as one of three tight-heads for a starting berth, but to have a player of his quality sparring with two others shows our strength in depth which we were massively lacking last season.”

Knights have also signed 23 year-old centre/wing James Tincknell from Leeds Carnegie and hooker Ben Sowery from Wharfedale.

Tincknell made 13 appearances for Leeds in his debut season and would have had a bigger role in the side had he not been involved in a serious car accident which left him in a coma for almost a month .

The powerfully-built 6’4” utility back, who rejected the chance of a career as a professional cricketer with Durham five years ago, scored four tries in just 10 starts for National Division One side Wharfedale, who he joined in January, and is relishing the chance to play regular Championship rugby again.

“I’m really excited to join Doncaster; they are a very ambitious club with a brilliant set-up and first class facilities,” he said.“It’s been a tough year personally and I’m very lucky to be here let alone be given a chance by such a great club – I couldn’t ask for more.”

Sowery, who will bring a blend of physicality and skill to the squad, completes Davey’s additions at hooker.

The former England U18s and Yorkshire front-rower made 38 appearances for Wharfedale after his spell in the Leeds Academy where he was plucked from Harrogate.

“This is a massive opportunity,” said the 21 year-old. “I’m probably seen as third choice hooker and I know the other two lads are very good players. But I quite enjoy the underdog label and I will fight for a starting spot.”