Harris and Howe are two hugely promising front rowers, both having represented the Blues at age grade level and having shown exceptional qualities in their play in both tight and loose. The two youngsters put in impressive performances when Merthyr took on Pontypridd in the quarter final tie of the SWALEC Cup last season.
Darren Harris is a product of the Brecon club, who has played at prop, but comes to Pontypridd as a hooker. Aged only eighteen, at which level he has represented the Blues and Wales, Darren stands at 5ft 11in and weighs in at 16st 9lbs. His nickname of Mighty Mouse gives an indication of his prowess as a solid scrummager and a dynamic force in the loose.
Twenty-one year old James Howe is a loose head prop who came up through the ranks at Merthyr RFC, captaining the club's Youth team and gaining representative honours with the Blues at under 16, under 18 and under 20 level. Known to Merthyr supporters as Baby Bull, James stands at 5ft 9in, weighs in at 16st and has a reputation as a player who can apply himself forcibly in the set pieces and in open play.
Pontypridd RFC head coach Dale McIntosh, who has helped nurture both Darren and James through the regional development system, is delighted to have the two players on board.
"Both these players put in big performances against Ponty in the cup tie at Merthyr last term" said McIntosh. "James Howe scrummaged exceptionally well against us, and that is a strong point of his game. He is one that can grow in stature in the environment that we can offer him.
"Darren Harris has made the positional change from prop to hooker during the past twelve months, and has the potential to develop in that role, not only at Premiership but also at regional level.
"Both these youngsters will come to us at Pontypridd and can certainly make a challenge for places in our senior team."