Austin happy to dig deep for Havant

Pete Austin
Pete Austin
Luke Simmons slides in for the opening try. Picture: Neil Marshall (171730-1)

Portsmouth closing in on Twickenham dream

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Havant have been boosted by the return of Pete Austin to Hooks Lane.

And the hooker will go straight into the squad for the National League three London & south east home clash with Staines tomorrow (3pm).

Austin, who came through the junior ranks at Havant, has earned England caps at under-16 and under-18 level.

Now 20, he went close to earning a full-time contract with London Irish at the end of last season.

But with that failing to materialise, he has decided to return to his roots.

‘We recognised early on that we had a very talented youngster on our hands,’ said Havant’s director of rugby Will Knight.

‘He went up to London Irish and spent two years on their apprenticeship programme.

‘And they thought so much of him they sent him out to New Zealand for a season.

‘He remains a Havant lad through and through and legend has it he wore his Havant socks under his England socks when on international duty.

‘His return is a massive boost for us and he has already had a massive influence at training.

‘Without doubt he is one of the most aggressive players I have seen.

‘He possesses an incredible work-rate along with being a skilful ball carrier.

‘We will use him to take the ball into contact areas and utilise his ability to produce great offloads. He provides the level of skill we will need if we are to climb the table and save our National League status.

‘The lad will go on and play at a much higher level but, at the moment, he is happy to dig deep for the Havant cause.’

Havant have started their campaign with six straight defeats.

Some of those defeats have been heavy, however, Knight has seen his side gradually improve.

He feels they are slowly becoming more competitive.

And believes the return of Austin could prove a catalyst in attracting other players back to the club.

Visitors Staines have also struggled – winning just once this season – so Havant are targeting a first win.

‘It is a game we feel we can win,’ said Knight.

‘We have made great progress in the past few weeks but understand that we are at the bottom and need to start climbing up the league.’

Havant: Duke, Blackburn L, Bamford, Morris, Craig, Knight, Davenport L, Cutting, Austin, Elsmore, Perkins, Roberts, Bethman, Barfoot, Williams, Fenn, Burgess-Kelly, White, Horn, Sutton