LEICESTER have announced their reserve pairing for 2024 will be made up of Drew Kemp and Joe Thompson.

Kemp was a successful mid-season signing for the Lions in the Sports Insure Premiership this year, and he now moves into the No.6 berth with Thompson – captain of the club’s NDL team – taking the Rising Star position.

Team manager Stewart Dickson said: “It’s a young reserve pairing and for me they will still get better. I’m very happy to get both of them on board.

“Drew was always in my plans because he did so well this year, and we’re getting him one point below his actual average so effectively in terms of last season’s numbers we’re building to a 41 rather than a 40, that’s the way I see it, and I’m sure he’ll continue to improve.

“I touched base with Joe around ten days ago, before I knew what Birmingham and Oxford were doing with their Rising Stars, and for me he was always the obvious candidate because he rides Beaumont Park so well.

“I’m trying to build a team to win our home matches first and foremost, and he fits into exactly what we’re trying to do as a club – and I think the supporters will see that with the other signings that are coming.”

The Lions have also been boosted by an extension of their title sponsorship deal with Watling JCB, who have backed the club since 2015 before becoming main sponsors two years later.

Special Projects Director Andy Raine said: “First of all I want to place on record my thanks to the Bates family, because I enjoyed working with them, and without them Leicester may well have folded.

“They’ve left the club on solid foundations, and I’m now really looking forward to working with (new owner) Paul Cairns to hopefully move things further forward again.”

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