Kai Owen’s resilience has been rewarded with his promotion from the Three Pears Warriors Academy to the senior squad at Sixways.
The loosehead prop was released from the Junior Academy but his performances for Newport, in his native Shropshire, and North Midlands Under-20s helped him to win a second chance with Warriors which Owen has grasped with both hands.
Having impressed playing for Cavaliers in the Premiership Rugby Shield in the 2017/18 season, Owen was re-signed by Warriors as a member of the Senior Academy two years ago.
He made his senior debut as a replacement in the memorable European Challenge Cup victory over a star-studded Stade Francais in Paris in October 2018 and was capped by England Under-20s later that season.
Owen performed consistently for Cavaliers in this season’s successful Premiership Rugby Shield campaign and made his Gallagher Premiership debut as a replacement against Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate just before the Coronavirus caused the season to be suspended.
“Kai has shown great resilience in overcoming early setbacks to establish himself as a leading Academy player, who has represented England at Under-20s level,” said Warriors Director of Rugby Alan Solomons.
“He is an athletic loosehead prop who relishes the challenges of scrummaging and, in the opportunities given to him this season, has shown that he has the ability to cut it at top level.
“He loves the club and will be an integral part of the team going forward. As with all our other young home grown players, I look forward to working with him.”
Owen, 21, is the sixth member of the Senior Academy to graduate to next season’s senior squad following hooker Beck Cutting, lock James Scott, full-back Nick David, wing Alex Hearle and back-row forward Tom Dodd.
Owen’s promotion means that Warriors will have 16 homegrown Academy graduates – including Matt Cox, Graham Kitchener and Matt Kvesic who have returned to Sixways after spells with other clubs – in the senior squad next season. In addition Perry Humphreys and Gareth Simpson also developed in the Academy having played their formative rugby elsewhere.
They, along with all Senior Academy players, train as part of the first team squad which Owen believes has been a key factor in his development.
“Training with the first team has given me a lot of confidence that has been vital for stepping up and showcasing what I can do,” Owen said.
“It has also enabled me to get to know the senior players more and I am extremely excited to now be stepping up. It has always been my dream since I can remember to play professional rugby.”
Owen began his career with Telford Hornets, a club he has retained a close association with, and has gained valuable senior experience with spells on dual registrations with Hartpury and Yorkshire Carnegie in recent seasons.