The Ospreys have moved to tie up some of the brightest young talent in Welsh rugby by welcoming six new teenagers from across the region into their Academy system on development contracts.
YOUNG OSPREYS SET TO SOAR
The sextet of 16 to 18 year-olds have put pen to paper on contracts that will see them join the Ospreys Academy on a full-time basis having been identified by coaching and development staff as having the ability to make an impact at both regional and international level.
18 year old's Ryan Bevington (Porthcawl RFC/Porthcawl Comprehensive) and Rhys Webb (Bridgend RFC), 17 year old's Rory Pitman (Bridgend RFC) and Daniel Biggar (Gowerton Comprehensive) and 16 year old's Ashley Beck (Neath Port Talbot College/Tonmawr RFC) and Kristian Phillips (Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera/Tonmawr RFC) are the young guns being tipped for bright things by the Ospreys.
Welcoming the new signings on board, Ospreys Academy Manager Gethin Watts commented:
"The six youngsters have all been involved within the Academy set-up in some form over the last eighteen months. Having been identified as the next generation of Ospreys, they have been rewarded with development contracts that will allow us to provide the tools to assist them with their aim of becoming fully-fledged Ospreys.
"They will work closely with Academy coaches to ensure that they develop on the field as anticipated, and their rugby work will be tailored to their individual educational and vocational needs. They will follow a holistic development plan that will prepare them not only for a career in rugby, but also, for a life beyond the game. The Academy system allows us to develop well-rounded, responsible individuals that are true professionals in every sense of the word, on and off the pitch.
"They may only be starting out on the road to rugby success, it is important that the next generation of players realise that when they hang their boots up they need to be prepared for life outside rugby and that is why we ensure that we provide them with the life skills to adapt to that change. We want to develop great rugby players and great people."Ospreys Director of Rugby Kevin Hopkins said:
"We are delighted to be able to welcome these six talented individuals on board and wish them all the best as they attempt to follow in the footsteps of Alun Wyn Jones and James Hook, two players who have graduated from the Ospreys Academy with flying colours this season.
"The Ospreys region represents some of Wales's traditional rugby hotspots, clubs and towns that have a long and proud history of nurturing rugby talent, and this is a legacy that we have a duty to ensure survives. We have made a considerable investment in identifying and developing the best young talent and we genuinely believe that the Academy is the production line that will deliver long-term success for both the Ospreys and Wales.
"The type of long term forward planning that the Academy system allows us to undertake, is key to ensuring that we reach our goal, which is to compete with, and beat, the best in Europe, not only today but in the future."
Outlining the skills and strong points of his new recruits, Academy Manager Gethin Watts said: "Ryan Bevington is a Wales U-19 cap and is a great example of a modern day loose head prop. He is a strong scrummager who also makes a great contribution around the field and has already been compared to Duncan Jones. Rhys Webb is a dynamic scrum half and is also an U-19 cap. He has already tasted Premiership action, making his debut for Bridgend at just 17.
"Rory Pitman is a strong and powerful ball carrying number eight who is in the Wales U-18 squad for their Six Nations campaign in April along with Ashley Beck and Daniel Biggar. Ashley is a real footballing inside centre who is equally comfortable with ball in hand or using his boot while Daniel possesses all the attributes required of a modern day outside half. He is a very accomplished footballer who possesses the skills of a more traditional 10, but at 6ft 1 has the physical attributes we've come to expect of someone in that position.
"Kristian Phillips is the sixth of the group and is the youngest. Capped for Wales at U-16 level a year early, his main attributes are his ability to beat a man and his speed, which isn't surprising given that he is a former Welsh Schools Sprint Champion.
"We have great confidence and belief in the six of them and everyone involved with the Ospreys Academy is looking forward to working closely with them over the coming months and years. The Ospreys have already set the benchmark in terms of developing young talent through the regional system, as evidenced by the impact that Alun and James have made over the last twelve months, both at regional and international level. What better role models could these boys have as they embark on what we all hope will be long and prosperous careers in professional rugby."
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Pic attached: Let's go to work - The New Ospreys signings pictured in the players tunnel at Liberty Stadium. L-R Daniel Biggar, Ryan Bevington, Rory Pitman, Ashley Beck and Kristian Phillips. Not pictured is Rhys Webb, who was unavailable.
Head and shoulder shots of the players are available on request