The Ospreys will be led into LV= Cup action by young openside Sam Lewis, who will captain the region for the first time in Friday night's Liberty Stadium clash against Gloucester (KO 7.45pm).
The 22-year old from Mumbles has been handed the skipper’s armband less than 13 months after making his Ospreys bow in last year’s Anglo-Welsh competition.
The younger brother of former Osprey openside Ben, the captaincy comes as further reward for his endeavour and commitment after missing out on regional recognition at the traditional age-grade levels of U16 and U18. Having shone at Premiership level with Swansea he was invited to represent the reformed Ospreys U20 team and then last season featured in all four of the region’s LV= Cup clashes before being handed his first professional contract in March of this year.
Speaking about the decision to make Lewis captain for the game, Head Coach Steve Tandy explained:
“Sam epitomises everything we want from an Osprey. He has some physical attributes, is destructive and is particularly diligent about his roles and responsibilities.
“He’s not what you would maybe call a traditional leader, who talks a lot, he leads by example and leaves nothing out on the field. This is the next stage of his development, which will enable him to learn game management, understanding how what is happening on the field can dictate decision making.
“He’s done extremely well since coming into the group last season and is an example of the need to keep an open mind when looking at player development, and keeping as broad a playing base as possible to ensure late developers and those who miss out on age-grade rugby aren’t lost to the development pathway.
“Every time he has pulled on an Osprey shirt he has been outstanding and it will be good to see him leading his home region on Friday night.”
The LV= Cup has been a great development tool for the Ospreys with young players coming through to become first team regulars on the back of involvement at this time, Sam himself being a prime example, and while delighted to be captain on Friday night, the opportunity to compete for a longer run in the team is the bigger concern:
“I spoke to Steve on Tuesday when he told me the good news” he said.
“I couldn’t believe it to be honest. It’s an honour. There will be a lot of leaders out there, experienced players and then people like Lloyd Peers who is captain of Bridgend, so there won’t be just one captain out there.
“The LV is an opportunity for the boys who are coming through. There are a lot of forwards away with Wales so it’s a real chance for those who are here.
“Tips is a brilliant player so hopefully I can do the shirt justice while he’s away. In training he’ll give me pointers to help me. He’s young as well, he came through the LV and made his mark two years ago and hopefully I can go out there and do the same thing.”