Doncaster Knights' David McIlwaine to join Bristol Rugby in the summer
NEW recruit David McIlwaine is relishing his summer move to Bristol – regardless of whether they are in the Aviva Premiership or Championship next season.
The 22-year-old Ulsterman, who was the leading points scorer for Doncaster Knights this season, will be closely following his future team-mates' progress over the coming weeks, though, in the hope they are promoted back to the big time.
McIlwaine, who is primarily a full-back but can also operate on the wing, will seal his switch to Bristol today – and is already looking forward to moving south.
"I am really excited by the challenges next season will bring – in either league," said McIlwaine, pictured. "Obviously, I hope the boys are promoted, and if we are in the Premiership then it becomes an even bigger challenge. So I will be following them intently over the next few weeks, keeping an eye out for the scores and watching any of the games that are shown on TV. I'm really looking forward to meeting my new team-mates and getting stuck into pre-season training. As soon as I knew Bristol were interested, it was really exciting for me. They play a great style of ruby and it really appealed to me to become a part of that."
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McIlwaine scored 96 points for Doncaster but only featured once against Bristol – in the Knights' 38-12 home defeat on the opening day of the season. He missed Bristol's last three victories over Doncaster, including their 65-3 play-off triumph last month, after rupturing a pectoral muscle – but he will be fully fit for the start of pre-season training.
"I only got to play against Bristol once and that was the first day of the season when Bristol gave us a bit of a drubbing," said McIlwaine.
"But I was hugely impressed, both when I played against them and when I watched them, either against Doncaster or on TV.
"I was injured when they won 65-3 at Castle Park, but their performance that night was great. I'm looking forward to being a part of that style of rugby and I think it will suit my game."
McIlwaine, who is 6ft 3in, made 11 first-team appearances for Ulster during the 2010-11 season, including a Heineken Cup start against Biarritz, before joining Doncaster last summer.
He becomes Bristol's second new signing for next season, following Leicester scrum-half James Grindal, and is likely to be joined by further recruits over the coming days as Liam Middleton builds his squad for the 2012-13 season.
Shane Geraghty will rejoin London Irish this summer after signing a two-year deal with the club he left in 2009 to join Northampton.