Fylde ready to bank on Tommy

Banks - back at Fylde

Banks - back at Fylde

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Centre Tommy Banks has become Fylde rugby union club’s fourth major signing of the summer as they prepare for the 2014-15 campaign in National League One.

Banks has returned to the Woodlands after four years away from the club.

He joins recent recruits Scott and Gareth Rawlings (ex-Longton) and Dave Fairbrother (ex-Fleetwood)

In nailing down the signature of Banks, Fylde have moved swiftly to plug gaps in the centre positions following the retirement of Scott Barrow and Stephen Briers at the end of the 2013-14 campaign.

Those are sizeable shoes to be filled, but the arrival of Banks and Scott Rawlings brings competition for places, with Chris Briers currently one of the high-class men in possession.

Banks’ return to Fylde after spells at Westoe and Blaydon follows closely after another centre capture Scott Rawlings.

Scott has signed from Longton, along with his brother Gareth, a second row forward, who is back at Fylde for his second stint.

Banks has spent four seasons in the North East since he last played at Fylde, where he made his first team debut in 2009, while still a student at Kirkham Grammar School.

Banks made a further four appearances, three in September 2009, scoring a brace of tries for Fylde at Hull in the opening game of that season.

The Liverpool-born student then left the area when he moved to Northumbria University in 2010.

He joined Westoe where he moved from the wing to centre and made this position his own as a first choice starter for Blaydon when he moved to Crow Trees.

In all, he has made 107 appearances in the national leagues for the three clubs and has scored 45 tries, a commendable strike rate in any company - he always seemed to play well on his return to Fylde.

Fylde head coach Mark Nelson said: “I am delighted that Tommy Banks has rejoined the club following his university studies in the North East and playing spells at Westoe and Blaydon.

“This is a great example of the system I implemented when I was director of rugby of keeping track of players that leave the area to go to university then return at a later date.

“Tommy has good all round ability and I am sure that he will thrive at the club.”

Fylde have already started pre-season training, and newcomers, the Rawlings brothers and Banks joined the first session held at AKS School.

Fairbrother was unavailable because of his duties in the Royal Navy.

Nelson said of the turnout on the opening night: “It was very encouraging and it is looking good for the season.

“What was just as encouraging was the turn-out for the Hawks’ second team, with Mark Stephenson back at the club taking charge.”

Nelson said he was hoping for strong competition for places at centre.

He said: “We also had Ralph Dowds, Sam Russell and Charles Hough training with us on Tuesday.”

Winger/full-back John Embleton has linked up with Preston Grasshoppers.

Fylde open their campaign on August 16 at the Woodlands with a friendly versus Premiership side Sale Sarks.