Esher flanker Ben Pritchard has insisted he is taking a step back to make a step forward at Molesey Road this season, writes Muhammed Sher.

The 19-year-old signed a one-year deal with head coach Ollie Smith’s men this summer, completing a move from Premiership outfit London Irish’s vaunted academy set-up.

The former St Paul’s student played regularly in the Exiles’ A League team last season as well as playing for Esher’s second string in friendlies with Georgia and the Royal Navy.

And Pritchard has not given up on life back in the top flight.

“I very much enjoyed my time at Irish and I learned so much in such a short space of time,” he said.

“Playing for the A side was a step-up from age-grade rugby and it helped me to develop as a player. I’m now at a stage, though, where I need to be playing on a regular basis and that is what I am hoping I’ll be able to do at Esher.

“I’m still only 19, so have plenty of time to further grow and mature as a rugby player but this year is very important in that I have to show what I can do and hope it gets me back up the ladder.”

Smith said: “Ben is a talented young man who showed what he’s all about in the two games he played for us last season.

“He’s the sort of guy who will put his head in places where others won’t and is a real nuisance.

“We want to be a team that can play in all conditions against all types of opposition so having choices like we do is going to stand us in good stead.”

Former Harlequins youngster James Inglis, a regular for Esher last year, has also committed for the season.

The second-row has signed on a season-long contract.