Scarlets have added four exciting young home-grown talents to their Academy for the coming season.
Back-rower Luca Giannini, fly-half Tal Rees, centre Iestyn Gwilliam and full-back Josh Hathaway have been signed up having impressed through the region’s pathway.
All four represented Scarlets U16s during the regional age-grade championship this season.
Luca is a pupil at St John Lloyd Catholic Comprehensive School in Llanelli and plays his club rugby for Llanelli Wanderers RFC. Luca played with Llanelli Schools U15s prior to the Scarlets U16s age-grade side. A dynamic ball carrier, he has good qualities in the contact area with the ability to turn the ball over. Luca also has the skillset to play across the back row.
Tal is a pupil of Ysgol Gyfun Maes y Gwendraeth and plays his club rugby for Tumble RFC. A product of Mynydd Mawr and Dinefwr Schools U15s, Tal has demonstrated excellent decision-making skills as a 10 and has the eye for a gap with the ability to deliver subtle offloads. He also has the ability to distribute the ball off both hands accurately putting other people in space.
Iestyn is also a pupil at Ysgol Gyfun Maes y Gwendraeth and plays his club rugby for Tumble RFC. Like Tal. Iestyn was a product of Mynydd Mawr and Dinefwr Schools U15s. A quality athlete with a presence to control midfield, Iestyn has an eye and the pace for the outside break and the ability to hold defenders up and put other players in space. Iestyn is an aggressive defender and closes opposition attacks off in the wide channel.
Josh is a pupil at Penglais School and plays his club rugby with Aberystwyth RFC. Josh has progressed via Ceredigion Schools U15s and has played with the Scarlets U16s for the last two seasons. Josh is a dynamic runner in the backfield with exciting counter-attacking skills. He also has good aerial skills and the ability to kick the ball a long way. Josh is always an attacking threat but he is at his best when he enters the line in back play attack in the wide channels.
Paul Fisher, Scarlets Academy skills coach, said: “As a Scarlets regional development department we continuously monitor and track the players in our region and pathway from the U15 Dewar Shield programme and work closely with the WRU regional rugby coordinators in our region to identify the next possible Scarlets Academy candidates.
“In this case we have contracted and made a long-term commitment to four players from our Scarlets U16 age-grade squad that have shown an abundance of potential over the last three years.
“Luca, Tal, Iestyn and Josh have been monitored in our pathway via the Scarlets age-grade programme and our Academy group training sessions. Their rugby development potential, age-grade performances, potential growth in physical development and hard work has earned them this opportunity and congratulations to them all.
“We will continue to monitor all players within our attached training groups and Scarlets U18 programme to ensure every player with the talent and application has the opportunity to progress through the Scarlets ranks.”
Scarlets general manager of rugby Jon Daniels said: “We are hugely proud of our Academy’s record in developing and producing home-grown talent not just for the Scarlets, but international rugby. It is fantastic to see four talented youngsters from across the region given this opportunity and congratulations to them, their families, schools and clubs. It is a proud moment for them all.”