FORMER ENGLAND Sevens captain Rob Vickerman has returned to Leeds Carnegie.
The 28-year-old has signed an 18-month contract, beginning with immediate effect.
Leeds-born Vickerman is a product of the Leeds Carnegie Academy and made his first-team debut for the Headingley-based club in October, 2005.
He made 53 appearances before leaving Leeds at the end of the promotion-winning 2008-9 season.
Vickerman played in the Premiership with Newcastle Falcons before opting to join the England Sevens set-up on a full-time basis.
He captained England at the Sevens World Cup last year in Russia and has been a virtual ever-present in the national squad for the last five years.
“It is going to be fantastic to be back at Leeds,” Vickerman said of the return to his home-town club.
“When I used to play here before, my family used to all come and watch me. Now I have a family of my own and it feels right to be back home.
“What I missed from my time at Newcastle and especially in Sevens is that sense of connection.
“Playing Sevens for England was as huge honour and a great privilege, but you never have that clubhouse environment or a home ground that you regularly play at and I missed that.”
Vickerman is hoping history repeats itself as Leeds step up their bid for a return to rugby union’s top-flight.
“I left last time after promotion and was not able to continue the journey into the Premiership with my team-mates so there is definitely a sense of unfinished business,” he admitted.
“I have enjoyed seeing how players I was in the academy with have gone on and progressed and the development the team has been making over the last couple of years.
“When I left there were a lot of great senior players who helped the young lads and I am looking forward to playing my part in that respect now.
“If I can help in any way to bring through the incredible pool of talent in and around Yorkshire then I will be happy to do so.”
Vickerman attended Carnegie’s impressive win over Aberavon at Hull Ionians three days ago and will be in contention to make his second debut at home to Nottingham in a televised clash on Saturday, December 28 (2pm).
Carnegie director of rugby Chris Gibson feels the recruit will be a key man in a 2014 promotion push.
He said: “We are delighted to have signed Rob and brought him back to the club he has always regarded as his own.
“We have spoken all season about the need to continually strengthen the squad in the push for the play-offs and Rob will certainly do that. We face two tricky games over Christmas and new year as we look to build on our win at Bristol and this signing will give everyone a lift.”
Carnegie will go into the Nottingham game on a high following four straight wins, culminating in last Saturday’s 72-0 drubbing of Aberavon in the British and Irish Cup.
Fourth-placed Leeds lost at Nottingham on the opening game of the season, but are now five places clear of their Christmas visitors on the Championship table and boss James Lowes is keen to see his side continue their momentum into the second half of the season.