Ospreys Rugby have signed highly rated blindside flanker Olly Cracknell on a three-year deal.
Cracknell, who started every game for Wales at the recent Junior World Championship in New Zealand, has penned his first pro contract which runs until the end of the 2016/17 season after the Ospreys beat off considerable competition to secure his services.
The 20-year old arrives at the Liberty Stadium via a personal journey that has taken him from Leeds where he was born to South Africa and North Wales.
Having been a part of the Leeds Carnegie Academy as a teenager he toured South Africa with Leeds Grammar School in 2012, playing five games, after which he was invited to spend 2013 with the Border Bulldogs Academy in East London where he played for the Currie Cup outfit's U19 team.
Welsh qualified through his grandfather, on his return to the UK in December he was invited to North Wales to sign for RGC in Colwyn Bay, where he caught the eye in the SWALEC Championship. Just three months later he was called into the Welsh U20 squad for the first time as he made his international debut against Scotland in March.
At 1.91m tall and weighing 110kg, his physicality and work rate saw him quickly establish himself as first choice in the number six shirt for the national age-grade team and he started all five games for Wales last month.
"This is awesome for me personally, to have the opportunity to be a part of the Ospreys is unbelievable," said Cracknell after signing for the region.
"First and foremost now I have to work hard to keep developing, make a good impression on the coaches and then push myself into consideration. If I'm given the opportunity to play I'll need to make sure I take it.
"Hopefully I'll add something different to the mix and the coaches will like what they see of me but I realise there are quality players and internationals in my position so I know what the challenge in front of me is. It's an exciting opportunity."
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Wales U20 head coach Byron Hayward and back row Will Boyde believe defence will be the key when they face Ireland tomorrow in the second pool game of the Junior World Championship being held in New Zealand.
Tension was palpable as players waited to hear the announcment of the Wales touring squad of South Africa. Matthew Morgan was one of four uncapped players named in the squad after impressing in the Wales Senior Trial.
Wales Trial, Principality Premiership Awards evening and Wales U20s in this week's Principality Welsh Rugby Union Podcast. We hear from Jamie Roberts and Matthew Rees about the Wales Trial, captain Dafydd Lockyer talks about Pontypridd dominating the Principality Premiership awards, while ahead of the start of the Junior World Championships we talk to Tom Williams, Steffan Hughes, Jack Dixon and Nicky Smith.
Coaches Rob Howley and Robin McBryde today confirmed their Probables and Possibles teams to take part in Friday's Wales Senior Trial at the Liberty Stadium and both are predicting some mouth-watering head-to-heads.
Possibles coach Robin McBryde has given his team a licence to thrill in Friday's Wales Senior Trial match. He tells WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie that his side will be determined to ruffle a few feathers against the favourites, the Probables.
We look at the squads for the Wales trial, European finals weekend and Wales U20 on this week's Principality Welsh Rugby Union Podcast. We hear from Warren Gatland and Rob Howley on the trial, full back Hallam Amos on his summer hopes, Wales legend Ieuan Evans welcomes European rugby finals weekend to Cardiff and Wales U20 hooker Ethan Lewis looks ahead to the Junior World Championships.
Wales Under 20 head coach Byron Hayward says last night's 31-19 win over Scotland was a crucial building block as the Junior World Cup rapidly approaches. WRU TV's Liz Jones gets his post match reaction.
Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards relives London Wasps triumphs in the Amlin and Heineken Cups in 2003 and 2004 and looks ahead to this year's Heineken and Amlin finals in Cardiff, as well as the Wales trial match.
Simon Easterby is leaving the Scarlets to take up the role of forwards coach with Ireland. The west Wales region confirmed today that their former captain and coach will be allowed to leave his current position at the club to step back onto the international stage.
Wales and British & Irish Lions flanker Justin Tipuric is 'progressing nicely' following his post-season shoulder surgery and is among a host of Ospreys players gearing up for a return in the new season.
Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Roger Lewis today welcomed the dawn of a 'new era' for rugby's premier professional club competition in Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales alongside the announcement of the new GUINNESS PRO12 fixtures.
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