Rugby Union

Kieran Brookes; the next big thing or another fallen star?

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Kieran Brookes is one of English rugby’s up and coming stars, featuring in the 2014 tour to New Zealand, November internationals and the 2015 RBS Six Nations for the red rose. However, could Brookes join a long list of wasted English talents who have searched for more lucrative contracts at bigger clubs in turn for less game time which could affect their international prospects?

Brookes first signed for the Newcastle Falcons in 2009 from national one side Fylde and there was a lot of hype around the young man. After a string of successful performances, Brookes was called up to the Saxons squad in 2011.  

I remember as young fan watching the last fixture of the Newcastle Falcons 2010/11 campaign where against London Wasps, Brookes received the ball from the top of the lineout and ran over the retiring French legend Serge Betsen.

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He made a charge towards the try line only to be tackled just five metres out and offloaded to supporting players to score a memorable try for the Falcons.

Many knew that the Kirkham Grammar student had a bright future ahead, then surprising news for the Falcons fans came in the form that Brookes was to join high flying Leicester Tigers with fellow Falcon Micky Young.

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In his first year at his new team, Brookes made a small number of appearances due to the return of inspiring figures such as Dan Cole and Martin Castrogiovanni from the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

The following year, Brookes was loaned out to both championship side Doncaster Knights and Newcastle Falcons for more game time. The young prop was obviously not happy with the amount of game time at the AVIVA Premiership champions and his previous employers swooped to bring him back to Tyneside.

In his last two years, Brookes has been a cornerstone of the Falcons pack with his strong scrummaging technique and strong runs in the loose which was reflected with call ups to the England squad in the light of injuries to Dan Cole and David Wilson.

But history has repeated itself for the Falcons faithful and Brookes has signed for the Premiership champions Northampton Saints to cover the departure of Australian international Salesi Ma’Afu to Toulon, which many Falcons staff and fans were not happy about as they felt they had given the promising youngster a second chance.

This is a continuing problem for the young stars of the English game, where big clubs come in for promising players and do not give them enough game time to develop into the stars they should have been.

Last year, Northampton Saints signed a promising young player in the form of Joel Hodgson, the former Royal Grammar School student had displayed brilliant performances during his time at the Falcons before the champions swooped for his signature.

But during his time there he has only played a small number of times due to the form of England international Lee Dickson and Samoan international Kahn Fotuali’I which has forced the young man to search for game time as Yorkshire Carnegie next season.

Some players see the big money and head over the water to France where their international careers are no more, such players as Matthew Tait, the Armitage brothers and Nick Abendanon for example.

But for players who still wish to work towards representing their country, should they move to a bigger club for a chance of becoming first team regulars or the possibility of holding a tackle bag which in Brookes case, has happened before.

Or the option of staying with a side who constantly give you game time which improves a player's game, I don’t know how professional rugby contracts work but young rugby players need to be mentored through their younger years to assist them making big choices about their rugby career which could potentially ruin their prospects of pulling on the England jersey.

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Rugby Union
England Rugby
Newcastle Falcons
Aviva Premiership
Northampton Saints

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