Four local teenagers have been handed the opportunity to pursue a career in professional rugby after being handed development contracts by the Ospreys.The quartet have come through the regional age grade set-up at Llandarcy, having been identified as having the potential to become the latest home grown players to graduate from the elite youth development pathway to become fully fledged Ospreys in the future.
18-year olds Rory Thornton (Bonymaen RFC/Cefn Hengoed Comprehensive School/Gower College Swansea), Jordan Collier (Tonmawr RFC/Cwrt Sart Comprehensive School/Neath Port Talbot College) and Calum Davies (Tonmawr RFC/St Joseph's Comprehensive School/Neath Port Talbot College) and 17-year old Adam Williams (Swansea Uplands RFC/Olchfa Comprehensive School/Gower College Swansea) are the four hopefuls who have earned promotion from this year's 'C' Group of players.
Welcoming the new signings on board Regional Performance Development Manager, Andrew Millward, said:
"All four of these boys have shown the potential during their time within the age-grade set-up to possibly carve a professional career with the Ospreys. Their hard work over the last couple of years has been rewarded with development contracts that will allow us to work with them, providing them with the tools to hopefully continue their development and fulfill their potential.
"It's important that they recognise this doesn't mean they have 'made it' as an Osprey. There is still a lot of hard work and effort needed from them if they are going to establish themselves here over the coming seasons, but they are in an environment that is designed to bring the best out of them.
"The next step of their rugby development will see them follow a tailored holistic development plan that will prepare them not only for a career in rugby, but also, for a life beyond the game, as well-rounded, responsible individuals that are true professionals in every sense of the word, on and off the pitch."
Thornton was crowned Elite Youth Development Player of the Year for 2012/13 at last month's end of season awards. A late recruit into the age-grade system after impressing for Gower College Swansea following an injury lay-off, the second row displays good skills, rugby intelligence and impressive physical attributes. He earned his first international recognition this season, playing for Wales U18s, before making his Premiership bow with Swansea towards the end of the season, playing three times for the All Whites in the final month.
Collier is a versatile back rower capable of playing at 6, 7 and 8. Another to have been capped by Wales U18 this season, he has featured for Neath RFC six times already, playing in both the Premiership and British and Irish Cup.
Davies is a number eight who has been a standout performer this season at regional age grade and Wales U18 level, his dynamic ball carrying and explosiveness off the back of the scrum being a key component of his game. Like Collier, Davies has gained his first Premiership experience with Neath, playing three times for the club since the turn of the year.
Williams is another second row, whose form at regional level after Christmas earned him a place in the national U18 squad for the recent FIRA tournament. He will be studying at Bangor University from the start of the next academic year so will gain his first experience of senior rugby with RGC 1404, while being closely monitored by Ospreys development staff.
Andrew Hore, Ospreys Chief Operations Officer, added:
"Our congratulations should go to all four for reaching development contract status, which is a significant step on their way to pursuing a career as an Ospreys player.
"The 600 per cent increase in investment into our development pathway is a significant statement of intent about who and what we are as an organisation. We are entirely committed to developing local young talent to represent both the region and the national team, while increasing player participation at all levels to ensure a healthy game across Ospreylia.
"This group of players are in an environment with a track record of excellence in development, which is the best place for them to be if they hope to reach their potential. Hopefully, this is just the start of a long and successful career for the four of them with the Ospreys."