Jersey Reds: Half-back exodus on the cards?
IT seems increasingly likely that Jersey Reds will be without their current first-choice half-back pairing next season, with both Kieran Hardy and Brendan Cope expected to leave the Island this summer.
And there are also rumours swirling that at least two Jersey forwards could make the step up to Aviva Premiership rugby next term.
During his two-year spell with the Islanders, Hardy (pictured) has cemented his place as Harvey Biljon’s first-choice scrum-half and has been in excellent form this season. Playing with a swagger that belies his tender age, he scored a tremendous solo try in Jersey’s one-point British & Irish Cup final defeat last April.
It’s little surprise to discover, then, that some of Europe’s top clubs have been tracking Hardy’s progress. The 22-year-old clearly has a bright future ahead and has apparently opted to return to his native Wales, having agreed terms with his former club, Scarlets.
Meanwhile, stand-off Cope, who has enjoyed a prosperous three-year stint working alongside his fellow South African Biljon, is believed to be on the brink of rubber stamping a move to Championship rivals Yorkshire Carnegie. In a similar situation to Lewis Robling last year, who was lured to Ealing Trailfinders with a lucrative contract offer which St Peter-based officials were unable to match, 24-year-old Cope seems set to join the Leeds-based outfit.
Cope has crossed the whitewash twice this season, and is the current top points scorer in this season’s British & Irish Cup. In the Championship, he is ranked as the eight best place-kicker, in terms of points scored, has a 73 per cent record from the tee and has scored one drop-goal. His fine form at the tail end of last year meant he won the Jersey Evening Post Sports Personality of the Month Award for December.
At least two Jersey forwards, as yet unnamed, seem destined to follow in the tracks of Richard Barrington, Harry Williams, Gary Graham and others in departing the Channel Islands to join the ranks of a Premiership club.
While the departures will, of course, be seen as a huge loss, Biljon will surely be confident he can rebuild a competitive second-tier squad, as he has been forced to do in the past, ahead of next season.