Brian Smith, the rugby director at London Irish, joined the England coaching panel just after Luke Narraway turned in a couple of performances against the All Blacks that suggested he might be a long-term answer to England's problems in the back row of the scrum. Narraway has rather disappeared from view since the tour of New Zealand in 2008, but he has not been forgotten by the former red rose attack strategist.
The 30-year-old No 8 from Worcester has agreed to end his French exile in Perpignan as soon as the current Top 14 tournament ends and join the Reading-based club in time for next season. It has all the makings of a mutually beneficial match. London Irish like to play with ball in hand and, in Narraway, they have recruited one of the most mobile and highly skilled link players in Europe.
"Luke is a talented player with a huge amount of Premiership experience," said Smith. "We want to be challenging for silverware and need the right type of man to achieve those goals. I had the pleasure of working with Luke in the England set-up and look forward to doing so again."
Narraway crossed the Channel two seasons ago after a long spell with Gloucester, during which he made 163 senior appearances and won a couple of trophies, including the European Challenge Cup. "There has been a lot of positive news coming out of London Irish over the last six months, not least with the announcement of a new board of directors and the move to a new state-of-the-art training ground," he said. "I'm excited at the direction in which the club is heading."
Another player with Perpignan links, the France prop Jérôme Schuster, has joined Worcester until the end of the season. Currently at Leicester, the 28-year-old forward makes the move as injury dispensation for Jérémy Bécasseau, who is recovering from surgery on his neck.