Young openside flanker Sam Lewis has signed his first regional contract, committing the Ospreys until the end of the 2012/13 season.
21-year Lewis, from Mumbles, has been handed the deal after impressing in the Principality Premiership with Swansea, before stepping up to feature for the Ospreys in the LV= Cup this season.
Having made the starting line-up in all four Anglo-Welsh games, Lewis has retained his spot in the XV for the last four RaboDirect PRO12 games in the absence of Welsh international Justin Tipuric, currently absent on international duty.
The younger brother of former Osprey Ben Lewis, a highly-rated openside who made 24 regional appearances before being forced to retire through injury last year, Sam has been rewarded for his endeavour and commitment after missing out on recognition at the traditional age-grade levels of U16 and U18.
Having shone at Premiership level, he was invited to represent the reformed Ospreys U20 team, and after securing a contract with the region is a prime example of the opportunities offered by the extended development pathway in operation at the Ospreys.
Speaking after signing his deal, Lewis said:
"I’m really chuffed. I was playing for Swansea, just doing my thing for them really, and obviously I’ve done enough to be noticed by the Ospreys. It’s a dream to play at this level and represent your home region and I just want to keep on doing it.
"I wasn’t part of the age-grade system until I got a few games at U20 level so it shows that if you work hard and play well at Premiership level, the Ospreys are watching. Hopefully I can continue improving over the next 18 months now and do well for the Ospreys so I can stay here beyond that time."
Ospreys Forwards Coach, Jonathan Humphreys, commented:
"Sam has been nothing short of outstanding for us since he had his chance. In the last couple of games in particular, where he has stepped up to the PRO12, we’ve seen what a young talent he is.
"We had great reports of him from his performances with Swansea and we’ve kept an eye on him for the last year or so. His progress physically has been good, he’s worked extremely hard and this is showing in the progress he’s made, resulting in his contract offer.
"We’ve got a process in place that means late developers like Sam aren’t lost forever, they have an opportunity to come through and represent the Ospreys. He’s taken that opportunity, but he is well aware that this is only the beginning for him and he needs to keep on working hard, remain diligent and ensure he continues developing.
"If he does that, I’m sure he has a bright future with the Ospreys ahead of him."