Cardiff Blues is delighted to confirm the region's Academy squad for the 2015/16 season - with over 20 rising stars pledging their future by signing new contracts at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park.
A number of players who made first team debuts at Blues last season are among those to put pen to paper on new deals, including back row James Sheekey, full back Harry Davies and prop Bradley Thyer.
The conveyor belt of young talent at Blues coming through the age grade pathway continues to provide a strong core of players who have progressed all the way into the senior ranks.
Last season a total of 26 players in the senior squad at Blues were Academy products and that figure is set to grow once again this year once the senior squad is finalised.
Richard Hodges, Elite Performance Pathway Manager at Blues, revealed the Academy squad would be split into three tiers this season, with the top bracket training with the first team. Tier 3 players will link up with the region for pre-season training before returning to their schools and colleges for the new term.
“We have a very strong group of players in the Academy set-up for the 2015/16 campaign and we’re excited about seeing this latest batch of players develop in our set-up,” said Hodges.
“Tier 1 Academy players are the product of two years of development and it’s always fantastic to see home-grown talent break into the first team. Our fans have seen the likes of Garyn Smith, Aled Summerhill and James Sheekey all do that and challenge for places this season.
“Every player we offered a contract too signed it. Over 50 players from our region played international age grade rugby this season; naturally some didn’t get offered an opportunity and will look elsewhere however we have a lot of talent in our pathway and with a lot of hard work more will come through to the top level.
"Aspiring young rugby players know they are given the chance to shine at Cardiff Blues and we look forward to watching this year’s intake progress.”
Tier 1 Senior Academy Squad: Callum Lewis, Brad Thyer, Ethan Lewis, Liam Belcher, Dillon Lewis, Seb Davies, Ben Roach, James Sheekey, Tomos Williams, Jarrod Evans, Garyn Smith, Aled Summerhill, Harry Davies, Joe Jones, Jordan Viggers, Ellis Wyn Benham, James Whittingham, Mike Hale, Rob Lewis.
Tier 2 Academy Squad: Corey Domachowski, Rhys Carre, Kieron Assirratti, Josh Novell, Aled Ward, Calum Bradbury, Morgan Sienawski, Shane Lewis Hughes, Owen Lane, Teri Morgan Gee, Declan Williams, Lewis Morgan, Harri Millard, Matthew Marley, Nick Griffiths, Jim Botham, Curtis Povey, Dafi Sion Davies.
Tier 3 Academy Squad: Ben Jones, Iestyn Harris, Owen Lloyd, Sion Edwards, Alun Lawrence, Tom Mably, Joe Miles, Tom Shepherd, Ben Thomas, Dafydd Smith, Dane Blacker.