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Rugby: Former London Irish star Stevenson back at Bournemouth
DAVID Dunn insisted newly-promoted Bournemouth Lions were ready to roar after achieving a transfer coup by signing Ben Stevenson.
Director of rugby Dunn admitted he was in dreamland after finalising a deal for the Bournemouth-born former professional star.
Ex-England schools international Stevenson has returned to his Dorset roots to lead Lions’ charge into the unknown territory of National Two South.
After playing for both Bournemouth and Oakmeadians at the start of his career, Stevenson moved into the pro ranks with Northampton, London Irish and London Welsh.
Dunn reported that French outfit Carcassonne and higher level domestic rivals Esher had showed an interest in securing Stevenson’s services.
But Lions won the race for his signature and Dunn is adamant the 24-year-old has the class to be an influential performer at Chapel Gate during 2012-13.
Dunn told the Daily Echo: “He is still a young man and it is absolutely massive for a club like Bournemouth.
“It is something I would have dreamed about – getting somebody with Ben’s level of experience in such a key position. He will help to run the show for us and is going to be a real leader.
“We have signed ex-professional players before like the guys coaching now, Tim Collier and Dan Connolly.
“Ben’s signing is up there with the best but in terms of our preparation for this league campaign, it is absolutely everything we needed.”
Stevenson featured in Lions’ first warm-up game and is expected to be a key man when Bournemouth embark upon their debut campaign in English rugby’s fourth tier.
Dunn added: “He has considered all his options and I am delighted he has decided the challenge at Bournemouth is sufficient enough to excite him to stay local and play for us.
“I first came across Ben when I was coaching the England schools side. He was the understudy to Danny Cipriani and was capped by England schools.
“He signed professional forms at London Irish and they developed him as a scrum-half as well as a fly-half.
“He played for Newbury when they were in the Championship and he recently had a spell at London Welsh.
“I am very excited about the signing. He is a great player.
“I will never forget him as an 18-year-old playing for the Dorset & Wilts team I was coaching. He played fly-half and Sam Hardcastle was scrum-half and, between the two of them, they ripped Hampshire to pieces.
“We are very excited at the prospect of having that pair back together at the club and playing National League rugby for us.”
Lions kick off their league season at home against Canterbury on September 1.