Former England U20s star Mat Protheroe is ready to jump ship back to Wales after it was announced that he has signed a two-year deal to join the Ospreys next season.

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Despite being born in Swansea, Protheroe made his name playing for England U20s (and U18s) between 2015 and 2018, a decision that left some Welsh fans disgruntled.

The 23-year-old star however remains Welsh qualified and will look to follow in the footsteps of Ross Moriarty, who played England U20s before switching back to Wales for his senior rugby.

“Being a Welsh kid and playing rugby in Wales, the ultimate dream is to represent your country,” said Protheroe,” he told the Ospreys website.

“That is a goal of mine but to do that I have to get game-time and prove myself at the Ospreys first.”

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“So I know I have to put in back-to-back performances, week-in week-out, for the Ospreys to stand any chance of playing for Wales.

“But it’s definitely an ambition of mine to play international rugby for Wales.”

Protheroe said he was eager to make a mark in his home town team: “I am a Swansea lad and I grew up watching the Ospreys.”

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“James Hook, Shane Williams, Tommy Bowe, Jonathan Thomas, Filo Tiatia and Lee Byrne were the players I used to turn up at the Liberty to watch as a young boy.

“I grew up watching those players. Having the chance to follow in their footsteps is a big thing for me. It’s just a really exciting challenge for me. I have never played in the Guinness Pro14, which is a new league for me, so it’s just exciting for me and I am really looking forward to the challenge.”

Protheroe won a scholarship to Hartpury College, scoring seven tries in 14 games for Hartpury RFC in National League One in England in 2015. He signed his first professional contract with Gloucester Rugby that year, before joining Bristol Bears in the RFU Championship from the 2017-18 season.

Protheroe was a standout in Pat Lam’s team, but now he’s ready to make his mark in his native Swansea.

“When I was watching the Ospreys growing up, they were always the most successful region, and were always winning trophies and fighting for trophies,” said Protheroe.

“It’s an ambition of mine to win trophies and silverware and I always strive to do that.

“I know the Ospreys have had a tough few months, looking in from the outside but the talent pool of young and experienced players they have, I just know they can compete at the top end of Europe and on a domestic level.

“So the goal I have set myself is to win trophies.”

He is the second new signing for the Ospreys next season, following scrum-half Rhys Webb from Toulon.

England U20s

Mat Protheroe

Dan Griffiths, the Ospreys Rugby General Manager said of his new signing: “We are delighted to bring Mat back home, and I know how excited he is to become an Osprey,” said Griffiths.

“He is a potent attacking weapon who brings pace and x-factor, as his performances, and the tries he has scored in the Premiership this season have shown.

“But more than that, Mat is a very good footballer, with a strong kicking game and excellent distribution skills which will also create opportunities for players around him.

“It’s an exciting time for Mat, as a young, talented, ambitious player to become part of the vision of the club. He will be an excellent addition to our squad and someone who will excite fans alongside the pace and power we have in our back three.”

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