The Scarlets have confirmed contracts with a number of Wales’ rising young stars for the 2012/13 season with more signings in the pipeline to announce in the coming weeks.
With a firm commitment already made to supporters by the Scarlets that investment is being made to significantly bolster strength in the senior squad front five for the 2012/13 season, there are exciting opportunities for youth in the Scarlets set-up too.
New Scarlets 21-year-old wing Kristian Phillips visited Parc y Scarlets today (Monday) to conclude his move across the Loughor Bridge and meet the Scarlets coaching team ahead of pre-season training in late June.
The talented winger, who has moved from the Ospreys to sign a new contract with the Scarlets next season says he’s looking forward to the opportunity of game time at Parc y Scarlets.
Phillips, born and bred in Neath, was a product of the Ospreys Academy and has international honours in all Wales age-grades from U16 to eight Wales U20s caps plus time with Wales Sevens. He has scored four senior tries with the Ospreys and appeared seven times for them this season.
Phillips' talent and speed caught the eye of the Wales National Coach, Warren Gatland who called him up to joined the Six Nations training camp in 2010 after some great performances including a well-known five try rout against Pontypool when playing for Neath in January 2010. Phillips played all his junior rugby for Tonmawr RFC before joining the Ospreys academy.
Phillips said: “It’s a very exciting time to be joining the Scarlets, the way they play the game, the crowds they’re attracting at Parc y Scarlets and the talent and class of the players in the squad – this is a big opportunity for me and I’m really looking forward to getting started.
“It’s been a frustrating past 18 months for me, in terms of the amount of game time I’ve had and I’m just raring to go now.
“I think this move will be really good for me in terms of the coaches and players I’ll be joining and it will be a great set-up to be a part of. The Scarlets are known for their flair and attacking style and that will suit my game with ball in hand.
“My time with the Wales senior squad in 2010 was an important learning curve and gave me a benchmark of what I need to achieve to establish myself.”
Scarlets Head Coach Nigel Davies who met with Phillips along with Mark Jones, Scarlets Skills Coach at Parc y Scarlets today said: “He’s a player who we believe will thrive in our environment, he has star potential and exceptional world-class pace and talent with the ball.
“I’ve watched him with Wales U20s as well as the early part of the season with the Ospreys and he has a great skill set and will link into the Scarlets style of play very well; he’s an ambitious player who like to run the ball and get into space and with that pace he’s very effective.
“His personality and appetite for attacking rugby will fit well and supporters can look forward to what he can bring next season in addition to existing Scarlets talent on the wing, after the departure of Sean Lamont.
“It is really important to have that injection of raw ambition, enthusiasm and hunger inside the rugby environment, which the young players provide. We will have a new generation of rising international Scarlets, taking over the mantle in the forthcoming season and it’s their responsibility to take this region forward on the field along with some key experience in the pack.
“We have already stated, quite clearly the commitment to recruitment from outside to strengthen the squad in the front five next season and the make-up of our squad for next season will be announced at the appropriate time when negotiations and contracts are fully concluded.
“It’s exciting that leadership on the field next season will be taken forward by a group of strong international Scarlets who have really made a mark now as stand-out players in Wales and internationally.
“Scarlets players like Rhys Priestland, Jon Davies, Ken Owens, Josh Turnbull, Scott Williams, George North and Rob McCusker know they have to take the reins and will be supported by a group of ambitious, rising players coming through our senior squad on development contracts as well as the promise and future potential of the Scarlets Academy players behind them.
“The investment in rugby we make is across our whole pathway which works seamlessly together both in terms of the Academy and partnership with WRU through to our links with Premiership feeder clubs, Llandovery, Llanelli and Carmarthen Quins.”
The Scarlets also confirm a contract extension has been signed by outside half Aled Thomas who delivered some key performances in the pivotal role for the region with international players away with Wales.
The Scarlets also announce the conclusion of contracts with some of Wales’ most exciting emerging talent – securing development and academy contracts with key players who will represent the future of the region in coming seasons.
Scarlets Development players with the senior squad for next season include:
• Wales U20 Prop Samson Lee (3 caps at U20s) in year one of a development contract
• Owen Williams, 20, outside half born in Neath, raised in Ystradgynlais, year two development
• Aled Davies, 19, scrum-half, from Carmarthen, Wales U20, year two development
• Dale Ford, (20) centre/wing from Trimsaran, Wales U20, year two development
• Jordan Williams(18), outside half/full back (18), from Llanelli, year two development
Academy new signings include Dylan Morgan (Lampeter) Lewis Rawlins (Cross Keys) Dion Jones (North Wales) Steffan Hughes (Llanelli) Thomas Ball (Llanelli), Tom Phillips (Llanelli)and Dan Jones (Carmarthen).