Harlequins academy manager Tony Diprose has backed Sutton youngster George Merrick for a bright future.

The 19-year-old signed a new two-year contract extension with the Stoop outfit this week keeping him with the champions until 2015.

England age group international Merrick, who helped the England U20 squad win the Six Nationals Grand Slam last season, is yet to make his first team debut.

But Diprose reckoned he would soon be following the likes of Charlie Matthews, who featured in Sunday's 18-16 defeat to Saracens, in to the matchday squad.

“George has made an excellent start to his professional rugby career with Harlequins Academy," he said.

"I have no doubt that he will continue his development into an outstanding lock forward and I fully expect him, along with our other young players, Charlie Matthews and Sam Twomey, to push our senior starting locks very hard in the next few seasons.”

Merrick, a former student at Carshalton Boys College, added: “I’ve progressed greatly as a player since I joined Harlequins Academy and given the quality of the coaching staff, I’ve no doubt I will develop further. 

"The club has an environment that encourages young players to progress and I’m benefiting from that.”