TWO OF Worcester Warriors’ brightest prospects have penned new deals as contract talks pick up pace at Sixways.
Academy aces Ben Howard and Max Stelling have committed their futures to the club after signing first team contracts ahead of next season.
The duo have made huge strides in the last two campaigns and have been seen as illustrations of Dean Ryan’s vision to turn home-grown players into the next generation of Sixways stars.
After bursting on the scene in September 2012 as a replacement during an Aviva Premiership clash against Leicester, Howard went on to play a key role in the RBS Six Nations and Junior World Championship-winning England u20s squads.
The full back has been forced to bide his time this season while Chris Pennell continues his fine form, but when called upon Ryan has been impressed by the 20-year-old’s showings.
Stelling, meanwhile, has continued his rapid progression since the centre enjoyed a dream debut when he scored a six-minute hat-trick against Bizkaia Gernika in October 2012.
The 19-year-old has made seven appearances this season and Ryan said he was looking forward to seeing both Stelling and Howard develop further at Warriors.
“I am delighted they have committed to this club and we will support them to make the transition to the next level,” Ryan said.
“To ensure the long-term success of this club, it is crucial that academy players have a clear pathway to the first-team and over the next few years we will see a conveyor belt of talent coming through.”
Chief executive Charles Cameron added: “Academy players will play an integral role in the club’s long-term plan and it is excellent news to see two talented youngsters rewarded with first-team contracts.
“As we build for the future, there will be opportunities for young players from across the region to follow the same pathway to the top.”
Warriors have also boosted their academy with the addition of Christian Scotland-Williamson and Josh McNulty, who will both join the club in the summer.