The Scarlets have announced that the region has signed new contracts with five talented young players for next season.
Development contracts have been handed to a group of the most promising young Scarlets stars to train and play with the full first team squad in the 2010/2011 season.
These include some of the stars of the current Wales U20 set-up including centre Scott Williams and scrum-half Gareth Davies.
Development contracts have been signed with:
• Scott Williams (centre), 19, from Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire. Details: He has been with the Scarlets Academy since he was 15, studying Sports Science at Coleg Sir Gar, Wales U20 rising star, he has signed a two-year development contract. Williams was recently nominated for Principality Premiership Players of the Year after a strong performance as Llanelli Centre, rising to prominence during the Under 20 Six Nations as one of the outstanding Wales performers. He also scored four league tries for Llanelli and won the man of the match award in his side's SWALEC Cup final victory. Williams has been named on the bench for the Scarlets first team in the past season.
• Gareth Davies (scrum-half), from Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire aged 19, studying at Coleg Sir Gar, international caps with Wales U18 and Wales U20, a Scarlets Academy player, he has signed a two-year development contract with the region. Has played 22 games for Llanelli RFC this season and scored five tries. Scarlets debut against Dragons on 31st December 2009.
• George North (wing) from Anglesey, aged 18. Welsh speaker George North is a Wales U18 star player at centre, he has signed a two-year development contract and has been playing with Llandovery this season and was nominated by the Scarlets for a scholarship at Llandovery College. Formerly with Llangefni, Pwllheli and Rhyl Juniors, North stands at 6" 4 and 17st and has been a successful try scorer for Wales at U18 as well as formerly with Gogledd Cymru U16 side.
• Nic Reynolds (centre) from Llanelli, aged 21. Details: Swansea University in second year of Sports Science degree. Wales U20 last year. Scarlets Academy player and has been playing in Principality Premiership with Llanelli RFC, played 34 games in the 2009/2010 season. Won Principality Premiership Player of the Month in April 2010 and was part of the SWALEC Cup winning team with Llanelli RFC. Signed with Scarlets on two-year development contract.
• Nick Cudd: (back row), from Tumble, aged 21. Details: Completed his finals in Accountancy and Finance at Swansea University this summer. Previously Wales U19s and U20s, Scarlets Academy, signed two-year development contract, has played 16 games for Llanelli RFC in the 2009/2010 season. The Scarlets have fully supported his return to play in December last year, after a double shoulder operation earlier in the season.
The two-year deals see these Scarlets players of the future take on weekly full-time training with Nigel Davies' professional squad as each also pursues educational or vocational studies.
In addition, Llanelli full-back Dan Newton and prop Simon Gardiner, from Haverfordwest, who have both made appearances for the Scarlets in the last season, along with no8 Ben Morgan and hooker Rhys Lawrence, all move onto their second year of their Scarlets development deals.
Scarlets Head Coach Nigel Davies said: "We have every reason to be optimistic and excited about the talent being shown at such an early stage by a group of our Academy players. There are some very promising signs from the players we have signed development contracts with – they are ambitious, eager and committed individuals who want to learn from those around them.
"Bringing young players like this forward and into the first team set-up as soon as possible is part of our philosophy to develop young talent from within our region, which will benefit the Scarlets in the long-term. We have seen how some of our best young talent has benefited from exposure early on to the demands of professional rugby.
"This is a major plus for our region but also for these young players as it gives them an unrivalled chance to train and play alongside some very experienced, top-class international players. If they are going to make it as pro players, these guys will have to learn what it takes to make a career out of playing professional rugby and the commitment required to be successful in an elite rugby environment."
Head of Recruitment and Development Gareth Jenkins said: "This is a group of young men with the potential to be very good players for the region and it is key that we are securing them within our rugby region going forward. The full-time training they'll have with the first team squad means that they have a genuine opportunity to progress and fast-track to the next stage of their rugby careers and become full-time professional players.
"They will each also be studying for educational or vocational qualifications so that, as well as progressing in rugby, they have the solid basis of academic or trade qualifications. They will also play a full part in supporting the very busy community programme carried out by the Scarlets – this will involve duties such as visiting schools and coaching children."