Harlequins scrum-half Leanne Riley

Leanne Riley joins Abbie Ward is swapping Harlequins for Bristol

Bristol Bears have made a huge statement of intent with the signing of Leanne Riley ahead of the 2021-22 season.

The England scrum-half joins Harlequins teammate Abbie Ward in making the switch to Shaftesbury Park, weeks after winning a maiden Premier 15s title.

27-year-old Riley is an experienced performer on the international stage having been capped on 44 occasions by England, scoring four tries.

Reacting to the signing of the Six Nations Grand Slam-winner, head coach Dave Ward said: “Leanne is a world-class operator at the base of the scrum and alongside Abbie (Ward), she has been at the forefront of Quins’ push to become Champions over the last three seasons.

“We have a number of talented scrum halves at the club and Leanne will add real competition and depth to that group, which should hopefully raise the level of her game and those around her.”

Bristol-bound Riley added: “Dave has a clear vision of where he wants to take the club and how he plans to get there, which really excited me when we had our initial discussions.

“It’s a new challenge for me and I’m always seeking an environment that is going to push me to become a better player and person, and what the club are aiming to build will certainly look to do that.

“The alignment with the men’s programme at the club is also a huge draw – I’m looking forward to getting to work with my new teammates ahead of upcoming season.”

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