ESSEX Leopards’ coach Robert Youngblood has strengthened his back-court with the addition of guard Ishmael Fontaine.

The 6ft 3ins Englishman joins the Basildon-based Big Cats after just three seasons with London Lions where he played alongside Youngblood and fellow Leopards Carl Josey and Lawrence Brown.

And he cannot wait to get started with the Leopards “I’m raring to go,” said the Leytonstone-born player.

“I’m ready to work hard and very happy to be here.

“Coach Robert was instrumental in helping me progress from a junior to a pro and has instilled confidence and hard work in me.

“I intend to give him my best work and the Leopards have been amazing to me.

“Chairman Fred (Dicker) and general manager Dave (Ryan) have made me feel right at home and I’m ready to help this team be successful!”

With Lukas Volskis and Josh Johnson having both left Leopards in recent weeks, Fontaine will give coach Youngblood additional options at both guard spots.

And the 22-year-old is expected to make his debut in the Big Cats’ National Trophy game at Hemel Storm on Saturday.

A win on Saturday will seal a place in the last eight of the competition for the Leopards and give them an excellent chance of home court advantage in the quarter-finals.

But a defeat will leave them relying on other results to qualify.