Llanelli Star - - RUGBY -

THE Scar­lets have added three bright young tal­ents to their Academy for the 2019-20 sea­son.

Broth­ers Sam and Harri O’Con­nor and scrum-half Harry Wil­liams, who have all come through the Welsh Rugby Union’s Ex­iles pro­gramme, are the lat­est re­cruits look­ing to con­tinue their dreams of be­com­ing a pro­fes­sional rugby player.

The Scar­lets Academy has a proud record of pro­duc­ing toplevel play­ers, with home-grown tal­ents like Jonathan Davies, Gareth Davies, Rob Evans, Sam­son Lee and Ken Owens play­ing their part in Wales’s Six Na­tions Grand Slam this year

There were also seven Scar­lets rep­re­sen­ta­tives with Wales U20s at the re­cent World Cham­pi­onships in Ar­gentina.

Props Sam, 17, and Harri, 18, have pre­vi­ously been part of the Bath Academy but are Welshqual­i­fied through their fa­ther, who hails from Bony­maen.

They have been study­ing at Llan­dovery Col­lege and been play­ing for the Scar­lets U18s side. Both were capped by Wales at age-grade level last sea­son.

Harry Wil­liams, 16, is a pupil at St Joseph’s Col­lege in Ip­swich. The livewire No. 9 has been with the Northamp­ton Saints Academy for the last three years. A lifelong Scar­lets fan, his grand­fa­ther is from Pon­ty­berem and fa­ther from Dun­vant.

Scar­lets de­vel­op­ment path­way man­ager Kevin Ge­orge said: “I watched Harry play for Northamp­ton as a 15-year-old in an un­der-18s game against Worces­ter and he was out­stand­ing. He is very sharp, elu­sive and has played in our com­bined team and ex­celled in that.

“Harry will be stay­ing in school for the next two years in Ip­swich and then join us to go to Swansea Univer­sity.

“Both Harri and Sam were in Bath Academy and both went via the Ex­iles pro­gramme to Llan­dovery Col­lege. Both had very good sea­sons and played U18 and U19 for Wales.

“They are mod­ern, mo­bile props, which we are al­ways look­ing for. One is a tight-head and one a loose-head, there is plenty of po­ten­tial there.”

Ge­orge added: “These three boys will not be the only ones we will be sign­ing. Via our part­ners in schools and Co­leg Sir Gar, Pem­brokeshire Col­lege and Llan­dovery Col­lege, we are al­ways look­ing to main­tain the play­ers we have and then en­hanc­ing our num­bers with the Ex­iles pro­gramme.

“We have a late de­vel­oper pro­gramme, we have the schools and col­leges and our age-group pro­gramme so we try to cover all the bases.

“The Ex­iles pro­gramme gives us that lit­tle bit ex­tra on top.

“If we want to com­pete against the best we want to be pick­ing up the best boys and when they iden­tify as Welsh we have to make sure we are in that race to sign them.”

Left to right are Scar­lets gen­eral man­ager of rugby Jon Daniels, new Scar­lets Academy sign­ings Harry Wil­liams, Sam O’Con­nor and Harri O’Con­nor, and Scar­lets de­vel­op­ment path­way man­ager Kevin Ge­orge. Pic­ture: Ri­ley Sports Pho­tog­ra­phy

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