Ospreys have announced that 21-year old loosehead prop Nicky Smith has put pen to paper on a new four-year contract that ties him to his home region until 2019.
A product of the region’s development pathway and having previously played at two Junior World Championships with Wales U20s, his regional performances saw him rewarded with a first senior national call-up last November, and he won his first two full caps that November, against Fiji and New Zealand.
To date, he has made 26 appearances for the Ospreys, scoring two tries, and is currently part of Warren Gatland’s extended training squad preparing for potential involvement in the Rugby World Cup.
After signing his new deal, Smith’s first thought was the hard work in front of him as he continues his development with the Ospreys.
"I’m really pleased to be signing this new deal," he said.
"I’m really grateful to everyone at the Ospreys for giving me the chance and for allowing me to secure my long-term future with my home region.
"To be honest, I couldn’t have asked for any more in first full season as an Osprey, to play so many games, and to be involved all the way through to the semi-finals, followed by this new contract.
"I’ve still got a lot of hard work to do as I realise that I’ve not really achieved anything yet, I’m still very young and learning the game. If I can stay fit, keep working hard and improving, hopefully I’ll get more game time and be able to establish myself as an Osprey.
"I’m really looking forward to learning off Paul James as well, as I know I’ve got a long way to go."
Andrew Millward, Rugby General Manager, added:
"Nicky is another example of the hard work being done behind the scenes to develop the best home grown talent, and he has earned this new deal on the back of a lot of hard work. He has a great attitude and a real appetite for learning, which shows through in everything he does, on and off the field.
"He’s very mature for someone of his age, scrummages well, and can be effective around the field. He has enjoyed a very good 18 months, which has seen him become a regional regular, gaining some great experience for such a young prop. The next challenge for him is to build on that, especially now that he isn’t going to be an unknown quantity for other teams, to ensure he reaches his full potential over the coming seasons.
"With the support he will have here at the Ospreys, our commitment to development and a track record in helping young players to achieve their full potential, Nicky knows that if he continues to work hard, there is nowhere better for him to be right now."
Smith is the latest Ospreys to recommit to the region in 2015, following on from Matthew Dwyer, Joe Bearman, Tom Grabham, Tom Habberfield and Dmitri Arhip, while skipper, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Biggar and Rhys Webb have all signed National Dual Contracts with the WRU.
In addition, Paul James, Brendon Leonard, Gareth Delve and Kristian Phillips have been confirmed as additions to the squad for the coming season.