Teenager Ashley Beck says that he's hoping to use Aberavon's fine start to the season as the springboard for more game time with the Ospreys this season.
The 19 year old centre, who holds the record for being the youngest ever player in a Celtic League match after making his debut as a replacement at the Liberty Stadium against Leinster in November 2007 aged just 17 years and 222 days, says that despite the Wizards first defeat of the season against Llanelli on Tuesday evening, he’s enjoying his rugby and hopes that his good form at the Talbot Athletic Ground will be rewarded with a chance to show his worth in an Ospreys shirt.
With seven regional appearances to his credit to date, including one start in the final game of last season in Munster, Beck is keen to add to that tally. He said:
“It’s going well at the moment, I’m enjoying playing for Aberavon, I’m doing okay and the team is doing well so it’s good place to be playing my rugby. I’m still learning the game, so I’ve got to keep my head down, keep training hard and playing well for Aberavon, and I’m sure that if I do well I’ll get games with the region.
“I’ve got a few games under my belt with the Ospreys, hopefully I can build on that over the season and maybe get a few starts. Because I played for the Ospreys so young, people think I’m a bit older than I am, and wonder where I’ve gone because I’m not playing for the Ospreys regularly. I’m still only 19 and there’s plenty of time left for me to show what I can do. The first thing will be to perform consistently for Aberavon. I’m sure I’ll get opportunities during the season, there’ll be the Anglo Welsh Cup, and hopefully a few Magners League games where I’ll get some time. I don’t want to look too far ahead though, I want to make sure that I concentrate on what I have to do.”
This weekend, his focus turns to an ‘Ospreylian’ derby, when Aberavon travel to face Swansea at St Helen’s, and Beck is expecting a tough game:
“It’ll be nice to get one over on them, to get the bragging rights for training on Monday morning with the boys who’ll be playing for Swansea, but it’s going to be a tough game, they’ve started the season really well. To win there would be an excellent result for Aberavon and would keep us near the top. It’s good for the region to see the three Premiership teams doing well thou, hopefully we can stay up there and be fighting it out at the end of the season.”
The Ospreys will continue to invest in the development of local young talent, with more resources being diverted towards the age-grade structure that has already seen the likes of Beck, Kristian Phillips and Dan Biggar already gaining senior experience, with a new wave of talented teenagers waiting in the wings below them, as Andrew Hore, Elite Performance Director at the Ospreys, highlighted:
“Moving forward we will be putting more resources into our age-grade set-up. The ongoing identification and development of local youngsters is one of the most important factors for us if we are to develop sustainable, long-term success for the Ospreys. We already have an enviable track record in bringing players through here, but it has to be at the heart of everything we do. We want to ensure that we are identifying even more Ashley Beck’s and Tom Prydie’s, which will not only be good news for the Ospreys, but for the national side as well.”