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."
Coach Richard Hodges is hoping Wales U20 can put a disappointing campaign behind them when they tackle Japan tomorrow as they look to finish the U20 Championship strongly to secure a good seeding for next year's tournament.
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