By Ali Stokes
Premiership returnees Bristol Bears have confirmed the acquisition of former England u18 coach Peter Walton. The former Newcastle Falcons player and coach will fill the role of Acadamy forwards and transition coach, laying down firm foundations for Pat Lam's senior side to continue to build.
During his time with the u18 setup, Walton oversaw the development of players such as Maro Itoje, Billy Vunipola and Anthony Watson. When Walton was moved on from his post with the RFU, alongside colleague John Fletcher, players, both current and past, aired their disbelief.
Head coach Pat Lam said: “A core of Bristolians in the first team is a key part of the Bristol Bears vision, as is developing our young players into full England internationals, so Peter’s input and expertise will help us to realise this ambition.
“Peter is a quality coach and person, who I played with at Newcastle for two seasons, he will add significant value to the development of our young, talented Academy players.
“Along with Mark Irish and Sean Marsden, Peter will form part of the wider coaching group to ensure alignment and transition through to the first team.”
Academy manager Mike Hall said: “It’s a fantastic coup for the Academy to attract somebody of Peter’s calibre and coaching ability to the role.
“He’s fitted into the culture right away and we’re already seeing the benefit of his contribution to our young players.”
Commenting on his decision to take up his role with Bristol, Walton said: “I’m enjoying working with the Bristol Bears Academy and it was an easy decision to commit to the role on a full-time basis, I’m excited about the vision that is in place here, but also the opportunities that are afforded to younger players to showcase their talents in the senior environment.
“We have a huge amount of talent coming through and it’s important that we nurture and develop these guys to give them the best possible chance to pull on a Bristol Bears jersey in future."
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