London Welsh have bolstered their back row for next season by signing of Mike Denbee from Birmingham & Solihull.
The 26-year-old joins the Exiles having impressed despite the Bees’ relegation to National League One, and his leadership qualities were recognised when he took over the captain’s armband during regular skipper Ross McMillan’s absence through injury.
Mike spent four seasons at South West One side Western-super-Mare before joining Plymouth Albion in 2007 while studying for a business degree at Plymouth University. The 2008/09 season saw him establish himself in the Albion first team – his first as a full-time professional. He went on to make 27 appearances in his debut season for Albion, scoring three tries, and picked up the club’s most promising young player award.
Mike spent the 2009/10 season in Spain with Premiership Club CR La Villa before returning to England and Birmingham Solihull where he made 19 appearances last season, scoring one try. He has also represented both England Students – alongside former Exiles Aaron Liffchak and Joe Horn-Smith – and England Counties – alongside ex-Dragons Dan Collier and Chris Whitehead – as well as captaining Somerset in the County Championship.
“The opportunity to join the club which I consider play the best style of rugby in the league, and go full-time again, was too good to turn down,” said Mike. “I’m looking forward next season to helping Welsh push on from reaching two Championship semi-finals and hopefully getting the club to the final. Russell Earnshaw [director of rugby, Birmingham Solihull] spent a lot of time one-on-one with me setting goals and looking at how I could improve my game and leadership abilities both on and off the field, which ultimately helped the team and helped me get back into a full-time professional environment. Week in, week out it was a dog fight at Birmingham but you’ve just got to keep on working and improving your game.”