Rory Pitman impressed for Wales in what was a tough Six Nations campaign.
Ospreys teenager Rory Pitman has flown to New Zealand, where he will spend the summer playing club rugby in Taranaki.
Nineteen-year-old back row Pitman has registered with the Coastal Sports and Social Club in Rahotu, after agreeing to the switch which has been arranged by Ospreys Elite Performance Director Andrew Hore and Andrew Millward, Regional Performance Development Manager, with a view to furthering his rugby education and assisting his long-term development.
A strong and powerful ball carrying No8, Pitman made a huge impression with the Wales U20 squad during what was a disappointing Six Nations campaign for the team overall, including scoring a try against France. Arriving in Rahotu this week, Pitman will play in the Taranaki club competition that kicked off last weekend. He follows in the footsteps of fellow Osprey Jonathan Spratt who enjoyed a successful time in Taranaki last summer. Like Spratt, Pitman could graduate to feature in the Air New Zealand Cup with Taranaki, dependent on his performances for Coastal.
Speaking about the opportunity for the player to experience life in New Zealand, Millward said: "After the success of Jonathan Spratt's trip to New Zealand last summer, we were keen to provide a similar experience to more of our youngsters, and Rory is the first to make the journey. To send a youngster out of his comfort zone to experience a new way of life and new cultures on and off the rugby pitch can only accelerate their development, and there are fantastic benefits to be gained for the player, the region and the club he goes to.
"In Rory's case, the challenges of a new environment will allow him to experience living independently. He is still only a young lad and he will have to develop his decision making skills off the pitch and his personal self management, and see for himself how all this will then impact on his on-the-field behaviours. We think that the trip will help to take him to the next stage of his personal development.
"On the field, he realises that it is going to be tough, as it will be fast and physical. He will be playing for Coastal in the Taranaki club competition, and the door has been left open for him, depending on how he settles in and performs for Coastal, to follow on from Jonathan and possibly experience the Air New Zealand Cup later on in the summer. Whatever the outcome of this trip, it is a wonderful experience for him which he is really looking forward to."
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.