The Ospreys have handed teenage wing Luke Morgan an opportunity to establish himself with the region after he impressed in a Bridgend Ravens shirt last season.
19-year old Morgan, who came through the ranks at Bridgend Athletic, has signed a three-year development contract and will train with the Ospreys on a full-time basis while continuing to be made available to the Ravens as they return to the Principality Premiership after a two year absence.
Having initially missed out on selection for the Ospreys age-grade set-up, Morgan shone for Athletic at youth level, and also, with Bridgend College, an important part of the Elite Youth Development Pathway at the region.
Off the back of this he was invited to move to the Riverside Hardware Brewery Field twelve months ago by Bridgend Head Coach, Steve Tandy, and handed the opportunity to train with the C group at Llandarcy Academy of Sport five mornings a week between 7 and 9am, resulting in him also featuring in the Ospreys U18 squad.
At Bridgend he went on to make an impact in a team that raced to the Swalec Division One West title, before scoring two tries in the promotion play-off final against Glamorgan Wanderers at Cardiff Arms Park in a 38-19 win that secured promotion for his team.
Tandy, now combining his Bridgend role with the post of Technical and B Group coach at the Ospreys, says that Morgan has earned his chance at the region:
“Luke is someone who has developed late as a player, coming to the fore over the last 18 months or so. He has a good attitude, is diligent and works hard, and he deserves this opportunity.
“On the field he is quick and shows signs of being a really good finisher, who isn’t afraid of putting his body on the line. As with any young player there is lots of room for improvement, but he is working hard, has the right attitude and desire to learn and has earned the chance to show what he can do at the Ospreys.”
Speaking after signing his contract, Morgan commented:
“It’s every boy’s dream, to play at the highest level of rugby, and although I’ve still got a lot of work to do, I know that I’m heading in the right direction. It’s great news, and it’s really good to be able to come in and train with experienced players.
“Playing on the wing, competition is really tough at the Ospreys. In training at the moment there’s people like Richard Fussell and Kristian Phillips who are good players and it’s great to train with them. Then after the World Cup when Tommy Bowe, Shane Williams and Nikki Walker come back it’s going to be an even better experience again. I’ve got to keep at it and work hard on my game and hopefully I’ll keep improving.
“Being at Bridgend has been great for me personally, I’ve really enjoyed the last twelve months with them. I’ve been made welcome there since I first joined, and it was a good season for the team, ending in the win over Glamorgan Wanderers.
“We’re in the Premiership now which will be a step up for me and the team so I’ll have to prove myself all over again. That’s what it’s going to be about for me now, always looking to prove myself as I step up to different levels.”
Andrew Hore, Chief Operations Officer at the Ospreys, added:
“Despite initially missing out on our age-grade squads, Luke has shown the right character and determination to really impress our talent ID team, resulting in him joining Bridgend last year where under the eye of Steve Tandy he was a real success story, and has gone on to earn himself a development contract with the region.
“At the Ospreys we are very aware of the importance of maintaining as broad a player base as possible at every level, and that players develop at different rates. This is why as a business we have invested in an extended player development pathway that instead of simply narrowing the focus onto players selected at age-grade level actually incorporates the wider rugby community across the region.
“We have worked with the District set-up to increase their importance and to introduce new U17 and U19 teams, we are running Ospreys development squads at U16 and U18, and last year we were the only region to operate an U20 team. The colleges project, working with Bridgend, Gower College Swansea and Neath Port Talbot has also been a positive move, allowing us to work within the community to really broaden our player base, something that will have a positive impact on all our clubs.
“Luke is an example to all young players on the development pathway not to give up hope. He has worked hard and earned this chance, and we wish him all the best in his future as an Osprey.”