Bishop's Stortford Rugby Club sign centre Josh Stannard from Brentwood
Josh Stannard will make his long-awaited return to first-team rugby with a new team after signing for Bishop's Stortford.
The 21-year-old centre has stepped up from Brentwood, where he came through the youth ranks, to test himself in National League 1.
And he is working hard on his rehabilitation from a knee operation which has kept him on the sidelines since January as he bids to make the grade at Silver Leys.
"I met with Andy [Long, director of rugby] a couple of times and he gave me some time to make a decision," said Stannard, who has followed his Brentwood team-mate Brad Burr to Stortford from the London & SE Premier club.
"It took a bit of thinking because I've been at Brentwood my whole life having come through the youth system. I've got a lot of friends there and enjoyed my time, but I thought the best move was to join Stortford.
"It's quite a few divisions up, so not just the playing but also the training means you're going to be amongst a lot of higher-level players.
"I've been to training a couple of times and it looks really good. There's going to be a lot more competition for places in a team like Stortford, so you've got to try your best in every training session and I'm looking forward to trying to get into the team."
Stannard, who is sponsored by Little Acre Construction, could miss some of Stortford's opening games of the season - they start on September 7 away to Plymouth Albion - but he is taking care not to rush his comeback.
He has been able to take part in some skills sessions at training, as well as doing rehab fitness.
"National League 1 is going to be a completely different ball game and a big difference to the league I was playing in," said Stannard, who is studying sports science at the University of East London.
"It's going to be a challenge and I'm excited about it, but first and foremost I want to get fit again."
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More by this authorMichael Vaughton