Wasps have moved to bolster their options at hooker with the signing of Antonio ‘TJ’ Harris. 

The Coventry-born forward returns to the club he left in 2019 on a short-term basis from IPA Greene King Championship side Jersey Reds.

Head coach Lee Blackett acted swiftly to secure the 26-year-old’s services after losing both Tommy Taylor and Gabriel Oghre to injuries against Bath on Bank Holiday Monday.

Harris will provide competition for experienced Premiership campaigner Tom Cruse and the promising talents of teenager Alfie Barbeary, who scored a try on his league debut against Worcester Warriors recently.

He could be in contention to feature against Saracens on Saturday. Allianz Park is the venue for Harris’ one and only Premiership start in November 2018. On that occasion Wasps were without the injured trio of Cruse, Taylor and Ashley Johnson. Oghre played his first Premiership minutes from the bench in a 29-6 defeat.

“He’s just going to come short-term loan,” said Blackett. “TJ was with us a year ago, so I am really pleased that he’s come back.

“He’s kept himself in good condition he’s been training with Jersey so we’ve gone and got someone that will know our calls, know our systems and know how we’re likely to play. Yes there’s been a few changes since but nothing too drastic.”

Johnson was many fans’ favourite to link back up with Wasps after he left to join Birmingham Moseley this summer two games shy of 200 appearances for the club.

Instead they have opted for the former Barkers Butts junior player who last featured for Jersey in their 38-3 loss to Newcastle Falcons on March 1. His replacement in that game, Beck Cutting, is also now in the Premiership and scored against Wasps for Worcester Warriors recently.

The Falcons defeat proved to be Jersey’s final game of the 2019/20 season as the Championship, as like all levels of rugby below it, they saw their seasons cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Their final league position was calculated to be seventh (from 12 teams). Championship clubs are still playing the waiting game regarding the start of the 2020/21 season.

Harris’ return extends the strong links between Wasps and Jersey Reds. Michael Le Bourgeois was born and raised on the island before establishing as a star player for the Reds. He  arrived at Wasps via Bedford Blues in the summer of 2018. Guy Thompson also made the step up between the two clubs in 2013.

The Reds also have ex-Wasps duo Harvey Biljon and Rob Webber on their current coaching staff.





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