Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Scorpions hand first team contracts to five youth players

South Wales Scorpions have given five of this year’s under 19s squad first team contracts for 2015.

Pictured left to right are Ben Jones, Zak Williams, Paul Emanuelli (assistant coach), Curtis Davies, Connor Davies and Paul Edwards

Paul Edwards, who has already made his full Scorpions debut while on trial, is joined by Zak Williams, Ben Jones and Connor and Curtis Davies.

All five were part of the Wales team who won bronze in this year’s Commonwealth Championships held in Glasgow where Rugby League Nines was an exhibition sport before the main games.

The Ystalyfera-born Davies twins have been great ambassadors for Rugby League in Wales over the last six years having started out in the Champion Schools competition in 2008 with Welsh speaking school Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera.

In 2012 the 17-year olds featured in the first ever Rugby League match to be entirely contested by Welsh speakers when they beat Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni in the Welsh Year 10 Final, a game that doubled up as the UK semi-final from that age group that year. Both have given a number of interviews for Welsh TV channel S4C over the years about Rugby League and the progression of the sport in Wales.

Loose forward Connor scored five tries the season for the under 19s with stand-off Curtis notching two.

Coaching them most of the way has been their school teacher Ioan Bebb, a former Wales Student Rugby League international and a professional with the old South Wales Rugby League club back in 1996.

He said: “If ever two people deserved success, purely on the basis of their desire, determination and sheer willpower, it's the Davies twins.  They've learned the game, made themselves better players and been great ambassadors for their school and locality. This is great news and, surely, only the first rung on a long ladder to future success.”

Ben Jones, a goal-kicking full-back, has played Rugby League for almost as long, having started off at his local side Bridgend Blue Bulls when he was 13.

He progressed to Celtic Crusaders under 14s after being spotted by Dan Clements before playing in the Scorpions junior sides for the last four years. He scored two tries and kicked 15 goals in six games for the under 19s in 2014.

The 18-year old has also played rugby union at junior level for Tondu, Bridgend Athletic and in the Ospreys academies.

A Wales under 16 and 18 international in Rugby League in addition to his Commonwealth Championships appearance, Jones, who went to Ysgol Gyfun Llangynwyd, is dedicating his success to his dad who died in 2012 following an illness.

Jones said: “When I played a year early for Wales under 16, he died a week before my first game and he took me to every session before that. He would have been proud to see my sign for the Scorpions and I’ll always dedicate what I do to him.”

Zac Williams, who turns 18 on Wednesday, is a relative newcomer to Rugby League having started off playing for Monmouth Comprehensive in the Champion Schools competition.

After being spotted by Lee Cullen, he signed for the South Wales under 16s academy eventually progressing to the under 19s as well as being one of the founding members of the WRL AASE Academy programme having to move from Monmouth to Bridgend in order to attend training in Maesteg.

Also established with the boot, he kicked 11 goals in addition to scoring three tries in his five games for the under 19s this season. A Wales under 16 and 18 international in Rugby League, he is a former Newport Gwent Dragons academy player.

Williams is pleased that his personal commitment to the sport is starting to pay off.

“Signing for the Scorpions means a lot to me,” he said. “I have left home and lived with other families which has been very hard, but I now feel that has been worth it.

“I feel valued and recognised for my ability in Rugby League and when I walk onto the pitch for the first time to play for the Scorpions as a professional knowing that my name is on my shirt will be a dream.”

Aberdare-born centre Paul Edwards is the newest to the game despite being the only one of the quintet to have played for the Scorpions first team already.

Joining the Scorpions in May this year, the 18-year old played four games for the under 19s, scoring four tries, before being given a first team opportunity. He scored his first senior try against Oxford in the second of his three first team matches this season.

Before that, he had only played rugby union, which makes his selection now and for Wales in the Commonwealth Championships even more impressive. The 18-year old came though Rhigos’ youth teams and made appearances in the first team for Glynneath in the Welsh League Division Three last season as well as playing a full season for Neath Port Talbot College in the WRU College league.

Scorpions coach Mike Grady said: “I'm Delighted that Ben, Connor, Curtis, Paul and Zak have all agreed a deal and will be joining up with the first team squad in 2015. All are very talented individuals with bright futures ahead of them.

“All have trained with the first team in the latter stages of this season and I was very impressed with all of Paul’s appearances in Championship 1.

“As promised throughout 2014 by Paul Emanuelli and I, it's about bringing the local Welsh lads through, creating a pathway for all Rugby League players in South Wales to aspire to. This is the first batch of many that will be taking that route and coming through the system.

“They have all graduated from the successful South Wales Academy who have had a superb season and credit goes to their coach Jon Ellis on getting these lads ready for their next challenge in their respective careers.

“It's exciting times for them and the club and I'm looking forward to seeing how they progress with the first team environment.”


Post a Comment