The Waratahs are close to finalising their 2013 Super Rugby squad as they have signed up Sydney University lock Ollie Atkins for next season which leaves one more space in the squad.
After impressing in the recent Shute Shield finals series, including last Saturday's Grand Final win over Southern Districts, the 24-year-old's name is the penultimate addition to the Waratahs' 2013 roster. He joins fellow second rows Sitaleki Timani, Kane Douglas and Greg Peterson.
Said Waratahs assistant coach Scott Bowen, "His standout feature is his work rate and the impact he has around the ground. He's a solid ball carrier, he hits a lot of breakdowns, makes his tackles and is effective with the scrum and lineout."
The announcement caps a breakthrough year for Atkins, who this time last year playing for Sydney University in the 2011 third grade Grand Final.
Having spent most of the year working for GrainCorp in a trade support role, Atkins received a late Super Rugby call up, making his debut for the Western Force against the Blues in Auckland in round 16, playing a full 80 minutes in the 32-9 loss at Eden Park and adding a further appearance the following week against the Crusaders.
After the completion of the Super Rugby season, the 200cm, 117kg Hobart-born lock returned to club duty, helping the Students record an eighth Shute Shield Premiership title in nine years with a single-point victory over Southern Districts in Saturday Grand Final.
A product of Scots College, he was "a couple of years ahead of and a foot shorter" than his new teammate, Greg Peterson.
The final place in the 30-man squad for next year has yet to be confirmed.
Waratahs 2013 squad
1.Adam Ashley-Cooper (Northern Suburbs) ,
2 . Ollie Atkins (Sydney University)* ,
3 .Berrick Barnes (Sydney University) ,
4.Peter Betham (Sydney University)* ,
5 .Tom Carter (Sydney University) ,
6 .Cam Crawford (Northern Suburbs)* ,
7 .Dave Dennis (Sydney University) ,
8 . Kane Douglas (Southern Districts) ,
9 .Damien Fitzpatrick (Eastwood) ,
10.Bernard Foley (Sydney University) ,
11 .Grayson Hart (Southern Districts)* ,
12.Michael Hodge (Sydney University)* ,
13. Michael Hooper (Manly) * ,
14 .Rob Horne (Southern Districts) ,
15 . Sekope Kepu (Randwick) ,
16. Tom Kingston (Sydney University) ,
17 .Pat McCutcheon (Sydney University) ,
18. Brendan McKibbin (Eastern Suburbs) ,
19 . Drew Mitchell (Balmain) ,
20 .Wycliff Palu (Manly) ,
21.Greg Peterson (Manly) ,
22.Tatafu Polota-Nau (Parramatta) ,
23.Benn Robinson (Eastwood) ,
24.Paddy Ryan (Sydney University) ,
25 .Jeremy Tilse (Sydney University) ,
26 .Lopeti Timani (Southern Districts)* ,
27.Sitaleki Timani (Southern Districts) ,
28 .Lachie Turner (Eastwood) ,
29 .John Ulugia (Southern Districts) ,
Ollie Atkins - Sydney University
Cam Crawford - Brumbies
Michael Hodge - Sydney University
Michael Hooper - Brumbies
Peter Betham - Sydney University
Grayson Hart - Extended Playing Squad
Lopeti Timani - Extended Playing Squad
Chris Alcock - Western Force
Rocky Elsom - N/A
Brackin Karauria-Henry - NTT Docomo, Japan
Daniel Halangahu - Zebre, Italy
Dean Mumm - Exeter Chiefs, England
Sarel Pretorius - Cheetahs, South Africa
Dan Vickerman - retired
*New additions to the 2013 Waratahs 30-man squad