Wales Under-20 full-back Harri Williams has left Scarlets to join English second division club Ampthill.
Big things are expected of the 20-year-old, who joined the Scarlets academy four years ago, but he has struggled to find time at Llanelli with the likes of the Wales international. Gareth Davies and Kieran Hardy lead him in qualifying order.
He will now link up with former Dragons boss Paul Turner, who is now head coach of Ampthill, in a bid to get his career back on track.
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It was ironic that he should have chosen Ampthill as his next club because Turner, who was heavily involved in the Welsh Rugby Union’s Exiles program at the time, was the one who played a key role in persuasion. Williams left Northampton Saints Academy for Scarlets in the first location.
“I was one of the people who brought him to Wales in the first place,” Turner told WalesOnline.
“He studied at Northampton Saints Academy and I remember Dusty Hare telling me you should watch this Harri Williams kid because he’s a qualified Welshman.
“I remember telling Gareth Jenkins about him, who came to watch Harri play when he was at St Joseph’s College in Ipswich, and it was clear that he liked what he saw.
“Things didn’t go as well for him in Wales as he would have liked, and I tried to sign him on loan last season but Scarlets needed him.
“He’s still very young, and I’m really excited to be working with him.”
The work Turner has done at Ampthill is remarkable given their financial constraints compared to a host of other Championship clubs such as the Ealing Trailfinders or Jersey.
Turner loves the daily challenge of improving players and believes Ampthill has proven successful in this as the club have played a part in the development of players such as Sam Costelow and Joe Roberts, both have all spent time on loan at Dillingham Park.
He’s also helped Ben Earle, Nick Isiekwe and Alex Mitchell on their journey to becoming senior British internationals, and he doesn’t understand why Williams won’t be able to reach those heights one day.
Turner said: “Look, Harri is still very young but I believe he can play at a very high level.
“He’s a great athlete with a lot of x-factors, and he’s a competitor, which is what drew the WRU Exiles program to him in the first place.
“Harri has the ability to create long periods on the pitch and create scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates without having to do anything.
“But like any young player, he has areas in the game where he needs to improve. I want to help him improve in the better aspects of the game like serves, free kicks and kicks. manage the game but I believe that will come with time.”
Williams won’t be the only Welsh player at Ampthill next season as Turner has signed strikers Iestyn Rees and Griff Evans from Scarlets while former Wales Under-20 No 8 Morgan Strong is also on the list. their books.
The 20-year-old from Colchester will compete for a spot with loaned England Under-20s and Saracens full-back Charlie Bracken, whom he could face at the upcoming Under-20 World Championship.
“I have two quality young No 9s at the club next season but I think the competition will be good for both of them,” Turner said.
“In the past, Ampthill was a very good stepping stone for players to continue to play at a higher level. And I don’t see why this hasn’t happened to Harri.
“He has the potential to play for a Gallagher Premiership club in the future, although as a proud Welshman I hope he will go the Welsh route again.
“What we can offer him is the opportunity to consistently play rugby at a high level, an opportunity to regain confidence in working across areas of his game.”