Cardiff Blues are delighted to announce that Blues Academy and Wales Under-20 stars Liam Belcher and Seb Davies have both signed long-term senior contracts with the region.
Highly-rated hooker Belcher, 18, currently part of the Wales Under-20 international set-up during the 6 Nations, is regarded as one of the most promising front row prospects in Welsh rugby.
Lock Seb Davies, 18, from the Whitchurch area of Cardiff, played his junior and youth rugby for Pentyrch RFC before being called into the Blues age grade system and has been capped by Wales at Under-18 level.
Both players have represented Principality Premiership leaders Pontypridd this season and will join the senior ranks at Cardiff Blues for the 2015/16 season and beyond.
Richard Hodges, Elite Performance Pathway Manager, said: “We have over 30 players in the first team at Cardiff Blues who have come through the age grade and Academy system. Over half the squad is home-grown and it is a statistic we are rightly proud of.
“We’re delighted that Seb and Liam have signed long-term contracts and we see them as being in our tier one category that jump into the first team group from next season.
“You only have to look at the Wales team that will play Ireland this weekend, a high percentage are home-grown and have come through the pathway in the regions,” he added.
“The likes of Cory Allen, who is now part of the Wales set-up, is one of those players and we have plenty more who are next on the conveyor belt in the coming years. Liam and Seb are the latest two and we are excited to see the next stage of their development.”
Belcher, hailing from Rhondda Valley club Treorchy, has already made two senior appearances for Cardiff Blues in the LV=Cup this season.
He said: “It means everything to get the senior contract. It’s something I’ve been striving for since I joined the age grade pathway.
“I’ve worked with the Chief (Dale McIntosh) a lot at Pontypridd and age grade and he’s great motivational coach so he has really helped me a huge amount already.
“There are a number of good players at my position, the likes of Kristian Dacey and Matthew Rees, who I want to learn from and now it’s all about pushing myself as far as I can.”
Second row Davies – who is 6ft 5in and weighs 17 stone - made his senior debut for Blues this season in the LV=Cup and scored in the memorable comeback victory over Wasps at the Ricoh Arena in February.
Davies added: “It’s a massive opportunity for me after joining the age grade system at Cardiff Blues at Under-18 level. I just want to develop and if I get any chances next season take them.
“I had a shoulder operation a few weeks ago so I’m currently looking forward to coming back from that, targeting the Under-20 World Cup in the summer and then really kicking on with Cardiff Blues.”