KEIGHLEY-born rugby player James Whitcombe has earned promotion to Leicester Tigers’ development squad for the 2019-20 season.

The 18-year-old played a key role in the Tigers Academy’s back-to-back league titles over the past two seasons, and now earns a step up to the development set-up that will see him train full-time with senior players such as Manu Tuilagi, George Ford and Dan Cole.

The young prop played his early rugby for Skipton and then Bradford & Bingley as well as Woodhouse Grove School on the way to the Tigers.

He follows in the footsteps of father Martin, who made 68 senior appearances in Leicester colours in the 1980s.

James has also earned age-grade honours with England Under-18s, and is currently spending the summer of 2019 alongside team-mate Sam Eveleigh on a player exchange visit with Sydney University FC in Australia.

He will hope his consistent presence in the academy’s successful season will take him into the Premiership side's first-team squad. 

James’ grandad Frank junior propped for Bradford, Yorkshire and North Eastern Counties, while his great grandad Frank senior played rugby league for Bradford Northern and Great Britain.

Whitcombe had already been called-up to the England U-18 squad for the South Africa tour last summer and he’s now followed that up by making it into another youth squad.