Cardiff Blues have confirmed their academy intake for the 2017-18 season.
Iestyn Harris (hooker), Alun Lawrence (back-row), Joe Miles (back-row), Ben Thomas (fly-half), Max Llewellyn (centre) and Dafydd Smith (centre) all enter the academy as 'Tracked' players having graduated from age grade rugby.
A transition group of 15 players make up the top tier of the academy. Rhys Carre, Callum Bradbury, James Botham, Dane Blacker, Ben Jones, Owen Lane and Cam Lewis all step up and have begun pre-season training with the first team.
Transition manager Richard Hodges said: “This is a talented list of players and in time, with a lot of hard work and dedication we will see a healthy number of players ready for first team action.
“We have to keep developing from within. More than 50 per cent of our first team squad is home grown - we want and need this figure to continue to increase.
“Last season we saw several players get significant game time as well as the likes of Seb (Davies), Dillon (Lewis) and Tomos (Williams) go away with Wales.
“There will be an even greater focus on this group of players, both on and off the field, to ensure they receive the resources required to succeed."
As part of Clive Jones’ appointment as director of development, the Blues’ player pathway has been redefined.
The transitional group will train full-time and receive extra provision in all aspects of the game, alongside their educational and career pathways.
Below them, the tracked player group will train part-time at the Vale, in the same way and with their Premiership commitments at Cardiff, Merthyr and Pontypridd.
Director of development Clive Jones said: “A major part of my role is to maximise the potential of our catchment area. In line with this we have restructured the academy with a pre-18 set-up and a post-18 set-up.
“The post-18 academy, known as our transitional group, is a crucial part of our player development program.
“As such we have appointed a coaching group headed by Richard to leave no stone unturned in the individual preparation of these 18 to 22 year olds.
“These young players will also play for our Premiership clubs and again Cardiff Blues are fortunate to have such experience to tap into with Nigel Davies and Dale MacIntosh at Merthyr, Justin Burnell and Gareth Wyatt at Pontypridd and Steve Laws and Neil Edwards at Cardiff.”
Keiron Assiratti, Corey Domachowski, Rhys Carre, Ethan Lewis, Seb Davies, Callum Bradbury, James Botham, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Dane Blacker, Ben Jones, Harri Millard, Owen Lane, Cameron Lewis, Rhun Williams
Iestyn Harris, Tom Mably, Alun Lawrence, Joe Miles, Ben Thomas, Max Llewellyn, Dafydd Smith