An Alnwick teenager has been accepted into the Newcastle Falcons rugby academy after impressing coaches during a four-week assessment programme.
Drew Thompson, 14, heard this morning that he had battled his way to a place in the U15 elite group after completing the course last night.
He had been invited to take part in the Falcons' U15 Academy group in mid-January for a month-long monitoring period to assess his ability, after being nominated by his Developing Player Programme (DPP) coaches, thanks to his performances during the DPP Festival and his recent games for the county side.
Drew, who is 6ft 1ins, with size 13 feet and goes to No Limits gym in his home town three times a week, plays at prop. He attends Duchess’s High School and has played rugby for Alnwick juniors since he was five years old, winning several trophies for personal performance and effort over the years.
The message from the Falcons' Academy coach, Aiden McNulty, read: 'Congratulations on being selected as part of the U15 Academy group. You are now part of an elite development programme and we expect you to utilise the resources now available to you to best aid your development. You now also represent the Newcastle Falcons.
'For all of our festivals towards the end of the season, we shall only take 24-man squads so some players will miss out as we have decided to select a large group of players this year.'
But if he is selected, there are festivals in Sale in April, Falcons in May, as well as an England rugby clinic on May 10 and 11.
Dad Kevin Thompson, who owns Thompson's Opticians, said: "Drew has worked incredibly hard to get this far and, as far as I am aware, he is the only player in the northern half of the county to have been picked, with the selection coming from Northumberland, Newcastle, Durham, Tees and Cumbria.
"As parents, we are incredibly proud of his achievement and I’m sure all those who know Drew will be equally happy for him."
Mum Teresa Dixon added: "Drew didn't think he had performed well enough in the final session last night, so it was a pleasant surprise when I got the text this morning. He has done fantastically well."