At a packed clubhouse, Neath supporters gathered to receive news of 8 more new signings for Neath ahead of the 2016/17 … with the promise of more to come.
After the troubles of last season, squad reinforcement was a must and, afterwards Team Manager Martyn Morris and coach Gareth Llewellyn explained, “It is important that we recruit players in the true Neath mould. In particular, we have targeted players with the experience and strength of character to supplement the many talented local youngsters that we already have.”
Confirmation was given that Jordan Collier has committed himself to Neath and it was revealed that he will captain the side in 2016/17; also, talents like Ed Howley, Cameron Morris and Geraint James who emerged during the season have re-signed and are very much part of the Club’s future. Neath will also have Academy youngsters Keiran Williams, Luke Price, Reuben Morgan-Williams, Josh Cole and Charlie Davies who all hail from the Neath area.
Heading the list of 8 further arrivals is former Cardiff Blues and once-capped Wales centre Gavin Evans who will be a strong, steadying influence in midfield. Alongside him to augment Neath’s centre strength is former Wales Under-18’s cap Matthew Pearce who will need no introduction to the Town’s sporting fraternity as he has played since junior level for Neath Cricket Club.
Winger Aaron Grabham who impressed in three April permit games follows in his father’s footsteps and joins the squad from Aberavon while centre/outside-half Rory Morgan-Williams joins his brother – Rory has already made two appearances for Neath, both coincidentally against Llanelli. At scrum-half, Josh Guy comes in from Llanelli and the Swansea University graduate will give Neath a different option at the base of the scrum.
Up front, the former Aberavon and Swansea loose-head prop Neil White will add character and experience from over 150 Premiership appearances to the front row where he will be joined by Wales Under-20’s hooker Ifan Phillips (son of former Neath captain Kevin) from Carmarthen Quins while another ex-Gnoll favourite Lyndon Bateman returns, eager to go again at Premiership level after playing regularly for Narberth last season.
Underlining the Club’s commitment to developing local talent, a dozen Neath-area youngsters have also been identified and will be training with the Club when pre-season preparations get underway next month.
Martyn Morris said, “”We are very excited to welcome all these players on board. It is an on-going process which started last season and will continue into the future. We have left places open for further players who fit the bill and we are talking to others in the back three and front five – we are leaving no stone unturned in the drive to get us back up the table.”