The Ospreys are delighted to confirm that three of their brightest young talents have committed their future to the region.
19 year-olds Gareth Owen and Rhys Webb, who are both key members of the Wales Under-20 squad for the inaugural Junior World Championship that gets underway at the Liberty Stadium on Friday, have both signed four year contracts, while 21 year-old Leigh Bevan has also put pen to paper on a three year deal. The three youngsters have been rewarded with new long-term deals after making the breakthrough into the senior Ospreys set-up having all debuted during the season just ended. The latest talents to progress through the region's highly rated Academy system, they follow in the footsteps of previous Academy graduates Alun-wyn Jones, James Hook and Ian Evans in signing long-term professional contracts. Maesteg born Gareth Owen has made the biggest impact, displaying his versatility by featuring for the region as full-back, centre and outside half since making his debut off the bench against the Scarlets at the Liberty Stadium in September. He has already helped himself to 25 points, including tries against Leinster and Connacht, and he featured as a replacement at Twickenham in April in the EDF Energy Cup Final victory over Leicester Tigers. His Welsh international colleague Rhys Webb from Bridgend made his debut as a replacement for Justin Marshall in the Ospreys victory over Ulster in March, going on to make a total of four appearances, including two starts in the final week of the season against Newport Gwent Dragons and Connacht. Swansea born wing Leigh Bevan also got the call-up to the starting XV for the final two games of the season, making his debut at Rodney Parade. Speaking after the three players signed their new deals, Ospreys Managing Director Mike Cuddy commented: "It's excellent news that Gareth, Rhys and Leigh have signed these new deals. They have all done extremely well over the course of the last twelve months and the new contracts are a reward for their hard work and effort, and show the faith that we have in their abilities. All three players have displayed the desire to succeed as professional rugby players and having made their debuts during the 2007/08 season we will be looking for them to continue their development next season. They have made the step-up from Academy rugby to the senior set-up and have not looked out of place having already made an impact. They are exciting young players and we are looking forward to seeing them excelling in an Ospreys shirt for many years to come." The trio take the total of Ospreys to have renewed their contracts in recent months to nine, following on from Lee Byrne, Filo Tiatia, Shane Williams, Ben Lewis, Huw Bennett and Ed Shervington.