WHARFEDALE have announced their first signings of the close season.

Hooker Ben Sowrey is returning to the Greens, who he played for in 2010-12, and is being joined by flanker Chris Walker, a product of North Ribblesdale, and Keighley prop Sam Booker.

Sowrey, 27, originally played for Moortown while he was moving up the Yorkshire age-groups and formed a friendship with Walker when both were at Prince Henry's Grammar School in Otley.

Hooker Sowrey was with Harrogate when Tom McGee signed him for Wharfedale, and he then went on to Doncaster Knights, Rotherham Titans, Worcester Warriors and Newcastle Falcons.

Most of his appearances for the two Aviva Premiership clubs either came in the Aviva A League, the British & Irish Cup or the European Challenge Cup, but, like Walker, he does bring bags of experience.

However, an anterior cruciate ligament injury suffered when he was with Newcastle at means that Sowrey is unlikely to play before the middle of the 2018-19 season.

Walker, the 26-year-old son of former Otley and Keighley Cougars winger John and older brother of hooker Jack, came through the ranks at Ribb but went further than Sowrey in terms of age-group honours, although both played in the same North Under-18 team.

For example, Walker was pack leader for England Under-16s and captained the national under-18s and under-20s, either in European or global competitions.

He was loaned to Otley as a dual registration player when he was with Leeds, signing new deals at Headingley in 2010, 2012 and 2016 before helping Rennes win promotion to Federale One last season in France – their equivalent of National League One.

Booker, like Sowrey and Walker, is creative with ball in hand, perhaps a legacy of his days playing rugby league for Keighley Cougar Cubs, Silsden and Cowling Harlequins, and was a team-mate of Wharfedale's director of rugby Baldwin last season at Rose Cottage.

Baldwin said: "These three are the first of what we hope will be nine or ten signings this summer.

"Ben's injury came at a time when Newcastle were discussing a contract extension with him and they didn't feel that they could take that risk.

"He has always kept in touch with the club while he has been away and has popped back to see us on occasions.

"Ben brings a lot of experience to the club and will be helping us out in coaching the forwards, which is important now that we have lost Stevie Graham.

"He will also offer us competition at hooker alongside Jake Parkinson, but the shirt is for Dan Stockdale to lose."

Baldwin added: "Chris was also on our radar for last season, and there was quite a bit of competition to sign him.

"He has had enough of professional rugby and, through John Slater, who heads up the Cavalry Club at Wharfedale, we have found him a job at Bluefin Insurance in Leeds.

"Sam has been runner-up in the Hardest Farmer of the Year, and there are not many props who weigh 20st and are 6ft 4in.

"He wanted to test himself at a higher level and loves carrying the ball and defending.

"Sam hasn't come to make the numbers up and wants to try and get into the first XV."

Pre-season training at the Avenue started last Thursday and there was an impressive turnout of 32 players, including several new faces.

Head coach Jon Feeley set out a few key principles and then it was down to work with some basic passing drills before Chris Black took the players through a series of shuttle runs to set individual benchmarks for the weeks ahead.

A similar number of players were back on Saturday at 8.30am for another 90-minute workout.