FORMER strongman Joe Tarrant has rejoined Bournemouth ahead of the upcoming South West Premier campaign.

The 19-stone tighthead prop has spent the past two seasons at Championship side Richmond following his exit from Chapel Gate.

He was part of the Lions squad which won promotion to the fourth tier and wants to help them back there.

Tarrant took a break from rugby for three years in which he competed in strongman contests, winning several.

But the 27-year-old, a contracts manager for Meridian Electrical Contracting in Christchurch, has now returned to Lions and will help coach the scrum.

Tarrant said his strongman background would stand him in good stead as the exercises transfer from one sport to the other.

Speaking ahead of Lions' first pre-season clash on Saturday against Birmingham & Solihull at Chapel Gate (2.30pm), he said: “For both you need a strong back and core, particularly for the front row.

“Bournemouth is the best club in the area and I really want to help them move up the leagues.

“Rugby fans around here have to travel to London or the West Country to see the top teams and that’s where I want Bournemouth to be.”

Tarrant also hopes young players will take heart from his rugby career.

He added: “I was a late developer. I was quite short and there were always lads who developed a lot quicker.

“I didn’t play at county level until I was 20 and took that long break from rugby. But I came back to it and still managed to push myself to play at a high level.

“Just because you did not get there straight away, don’t give up. Keep working and trying.”

Tarrant is Lions’ second summer signing following the return of full-back Karim Lynch.

Lions head coach Will Croker said: “Doing a lot of strongman work has impacted Joe’s game enormously.

“The boys really like him and he’s brought a real energy to the place. The club is thrilled to have him and we can’t wait to see him in action.”

Lions are due to open their league campaign at Old Patesians on Saturday, September 1.

And Croker feels locking horns with Birmingham & Solihull will be the ideal start to his team’s pre-season preparations.

He said: “In the past two seasons, we have lost our first league game against a promoted side.

“We happen to be playing against a promoted side again this time. It’s always difficult because for them, it’s almost like a cup final.

“It’s their first one, they have built themselves up for it and they give it absolutely everything.

“We have decided to go for a really tough pre-season so we are battle-ready. It’s not that we were underprepared before but I wanted to make sure we were playing at the right level.

“Birmingham & Solihull smashed Midlands Premier last season and have gone into National Two North and it’s a really tough start.

“It will be a baptism of fire for some of the guys. It’s all about performance and seeing how the players adapt.”