The Ospreys have agreed a first professional contract with 19-year old Swansea RFC centre Hanno Dirksen.
The South African born teenager, whose family moved to the USA five years ago, has impressed in the Welsh Premiership with the All-Whites over the last two seasons, scoring 21 tries in just 22 games, and he has agreed a 12-month deal after being granted a work visa by the Home Office.
An attack minded outside centre that can also play at fullback, Dirksen has been studying in the UK since 2008. Having represented the USA at age grade level, Dirksen became the youngest player to represent the Eagles at senior level when he featured in the non-capped match against Munster in Connecticut in August 2008.
After shining for the USA Under-17’s in the Millfield Rugby 2008 Festival, he remained in the UK to further his education, studying at Truro College, and was a key figure in the college side’s run to their first ever Daily Mail RBS School’s U18 Cup Final at Twickenham in April 2009, where he scored two tries to help Truro claim a 39-18 win over St Peter’s of Gloucester.
The following month he stepped up to senior level to represent Cornwall in the RFU County Championship, bagging tries in two of his team’s three matches, against Gloucestershire and Devon. Dirksen then transferred his studies to Neath Port Talbot College at the start of the 09/10 academic year.
Having signed for Swansea as an amateur last season he ended the campaign as top try-scorer, claiming the Young Player of the Year award.
Speaking after signing his contract, Dirksen said:
“I’m delighted to be joining the Ospreys and I’m really excited about my future with the region. I know all about the Ospreys, the quality players that are part of the squad and the number of players they have developed into international players. This is a fantastic opportunity to be part of an exciting development programme. Hopefully, I can make the next step in my rugby career and really start to make an impact.”
Andrew Hore, Ospreys Elite Performance Director, added:
“Hanno has a good rugby pedigree and has been identified as a young man with tremendous ability and the potential to establish a career as a professional rugby player. He was part of a very successful Truro College team and has caught the eye playing for Swansea, and he has a positive attitude to his development.
“He is still young, but we are excited about bringing him to the region and working with him to help him achieve his potential.”
Hanno Dirksen’s uncle, Corra Dirksen, represented South Africa during the 1960’s. He won 10 caps, including one v Wales, and played in the 1968 test series against the Lions. His father, Hansie, represented the Boks at U21 level, playing for the Cheetahs and the Blue Bulls during the 1980’s.