KEIGHLEY Cougars have announced the signing of Charlie Graham ahead of the 2021 season.

The agile outside back has signed a one-year deal with the club following his release from Super League side Hull FC last autumn.

Building a reputation for his speed and strength on the ball, the signing of Graham adds a strike threat to the backline and provides the sought-after option in the centres that head coach Rhys Lovegrove has been looking for.

“I was lucky enough to play rugby union with Charlie in 2018 at Wharfedale,” said Lovegrove.

“Charlie has been involved in a top organisation for the past three years at Hull FC and that has aided his development as a player in the sport of rugby league.

“Not only is he young, he is strong, athletic, but most importantly, he is hungry and wants to prove himself.

“The Cougars are the perfect platform for him to do that and when Charlie became available, I moved quickly to secure his services and I believe he is a great acquisition for the club.

“Charlie is a player that will add quality to the side on the field, and the club off it too.”

As a junior, Graham came through the youth system at rugby union club Wharfedale, where he earned representative honours at Under-20s level with Yorkshire, as well as playing open age for both Wharfedale, where he was teammates with both Lovegrove and Taylor Prell, and Ripon.

At the age of 17, Graham made the switch to rugby league after Hull FC made the decision to sign him following a string of impressive performances for the highly acclaimed Sedbergh School in the 2017 Rosslyn Park 7s tournament.

During his three years on Humberside, Graham would predominantly feature for the Airlie Birds' reserves and academy sides, where he would play in a number of positions across the backline, including full back, centre, and on the wing.

Despite finding first team opportunities limited, Graham would make the most of it when chances were presented to him, including a hat-trick on debut in a victory away at Doncaster in January 2019.

However, with the Reserves Championship being scrapped by the Rugby Football League as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 20-year old was released by the Black and Whites following the expiration of his contract in November.

Lovegrove was then made aware of Graham’s availability and the Cougars head coach moved quickly to beat other interested clubs to his signature.

The youngster has been assigned the number 31 jersey for the forthcoming season.