RUGBY UNION: New prop Cooper is signing No 25 for Exiles

Ben Cooper

Ben Cooper

First published in Sport The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Sports reporter specialising in Rugby, Cricket and Athletics. Call me on 01865 425456

LONDON Welsh head coach Justin Burnell hopes to bring the best out of Ben Cooper (left) after making the tight-head prop his 25th summer signing..

Cooper, 25, had rejoined Cambridge from Bedford Blues for the 2014-15 season, only for Welsh to swoop and offer him the chance of Aviva Premiership rugby.

Burnell said: “Ben is 25 years of age, he’s a big man and this is a great opportunity for him. Hopefully, we can bring the best out of him.

“Ben played against us three times last year and showed huge potential.

“He started against us at Goldington Road – our first Championship loss of the season – and he certainly caught my eye that day. They disrupted us at the set-piece.

“When we then played them at the Kassam Stadium, he didn’t start, but when he came off the bench he tightened up their scrum. So there’s definitely something there to work with.

“Importantly, Ben is also English-qualified and at the moment the biggest problem – and not just for us – is finding English-qualified tight-head props.

“There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of them out there.”

Cooper joins up with former Bedford teammate Ricky Reeves at the Oxford-based Exiles, who open their pre-season campaign at Henley Hawks on Saturday.

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