The Ospreys have signed 20-year-old tighthead prop Joe Rees, who has spent two years as part of their Elite Youth Development Programme, on a three year contract.
Having played his early rugby at his local club, Mumbles Rugby Football Club, Rees was educated at Filton College in Bristol before gaining senior rugby experience at Tonmawr, helping the Pitmen to promotion in 2009/10 and then featuring regularly during their first-ever season in the Premiership.
A former loose forward who has good technical ability in the scrum, he represented Wales at the 2010 Junior World Championship in Argentina.
He featured on the bench for the Ospreys on a number of occasions during the 2010/11 season, making his regional debut at the Brewery Field as a second half replacement in the Anglo-Welsh Cup win over Leicester Tigers, adding one more appearance, in the same competition and at the same venue, against Wasps in February.
After signing his first-ever professional contract with the Ospreys, Rees said that he is looking forward to continuing his development over the next three years.
He explained: "It's great news for me. I couldn't be at a better place to develop, it's my home region and I'm really happy to have signed a contract.
"I've had a little taste of it, I've been on the bench and got on a couple of times. It's been tough when I've been on the field, I've seen how high the standard is, but I've really enjoyed it. Just being involved with the senior squad is brilliant and hopefully this year with the World Cup, and a lot of our props likely to be away, I'll get another chance. That's what I'm aiming for," revealed Rees.
The young prop is confident that he will get the opportunity to shine at the Ospreys, provided he puts the necessary work in.
"The coaches want me to concentrate on my weight and my fitness, which has been something I've worked hard on. They want me to carry on with that over the summer, combined with my work around the park. If I can do that, and continue improving my scrummaging then hopefully I'll get another chance," he said.
Ospreys forwards coach Jonathan Humphreys commented: "We are a region that develops young players and nowhere is that more apparent than in the front row. Joe is an outstanding prospect who has already gained some exposure to the professional game and we believe that he has the potential to follow in the footsteps of some of the senior props at the Ospreys.
"There is a real shortage of tightheads in Wales, so it says a lot about the way we develop players at the Ospreys that having supplied two tightheads to the senior national set-up this year we are able to produce another young prospect like Joe Rees, who we feel can develop even further and make a real impact," he added.
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