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A familiar face returns to the Butts Park Arena next season following Coventry’s signing on a multi-year deal of Cornish Pirates prop Matt Johnson.

The 26-year-old former Exeter tight-head played eight loan games for the blue-and-whites in 2021/22, including the latter stages of the RFU Cup competition in which Cov eventually finished as runners-up.

After departing Sandy Park when his academy contract ended, Johnson moved further South West and has since played 46 times for the Penzance-based Pirates including a bench appearance when Cov visited in early May.

Prior to moving to Exeter for university, the prop played for junior club Upminster in East London.

Johnson said he was drawn to Coventry during his loan spell and having watched since from afar is really looking forward to returning as a fully-fledged member of the squad.

“I missed the semi-final and final of the cup through injury but really enjoyed my loan spell at Coventry,” he said.

“At that time it felt like something was changing at the club and they were at the start of an upward trajectory.

“Cov play an exciting brand of rugby, I know the coaches well and also some of the players. It has always felt like a place where I have unfinished business and somewhere that I would really enjoy being involved on a full-time basis.

“I can also see they’re doing loads in the city and the community and I know from playing there that their support is really big and noisy so it seems a good time to return.”

Matt Johnson in action for Cornish Pirates (image: Cornish Pirates)

Coventry head coach Alex Rae believes his new signing still has plenty of improvement potential.

“It’s brilliant to welcome Johno back, he’s a great lad and is really maturing into a good tighthead,” he said.

“Like many of the other lads we still don’t know how good Johno can become, so signing an established championship prop who can still get better is hugely appealing.”

More announcements will follow regarding the make-up of the 2024/25 squad.

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