Scarlets return to BKT United Rugby Championship action against Edinburgh at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday.
Head coach Dwayne Peel spoke to the media to preview the round 14 contest.
Dwayne, can you put your finger on the reasons why you’ve turned the corner this season?
DP: “Consistency in selection has helped, so has discipline, which has been better, the step up in the defensive side of the game has also been huge. When a new coach comes in it takes time, but the work Gareth (Williams) has been doing on the defence and Emyr Phillips on the contact side has been excellent and we have seen a bit of a turnaround with the appetite to defend. Scarlets have always been a side who wants to attack and I don’t want to take that away, but we have to have bite in our defence, the boys are defending for each other, none more so than in the Bulls game.”
What is the latest on your injured players?
DP: “Ryan Elias has had an operation on his Achilles, we will have to wait and see how that settles, but he won’t be back for a while, hopefully by the end of the season, if not pre-season. Johnny Williams is getting better, we have seen a big turn in where he is at, he is up and running on the field, not in rugby training, but he is not far off. Josh Macleod is close as well.”
Are any players being released from the Wales camp?
DP: “I have spoken to Warren (Gatland), we won’t have anyone back. I understand the reasoning, we will just crack on and do the best with the players here. We have a good group left behind, we didn’t lose too many to Wales so it is about consistency in selection after the Bulls game which is good.”
How is the camp after a bit of a break?
DP: “The boys were in need of that break. In a perfect world you keep momentum building and keep rolling, but I knew we were hanging on a bit at the end of the Bulls week, we managed to get ourselves right up for the game and it was fantastic, but having a bit of a recharge has been good. We had a week away from the club – staff and players – then came back last week with a real bite. The boys are excited about playing again. It is a big game and an important game for us.”
What are Edinburgh’s threat?
DP: “We have watched their last few games and they were very effective in Europe, especially, winning in France and beating Sarries at home was massive from them. They are a side who likes to play football and will want to come down and expose us in that area. Last year we left some soft tries in with some high-tempo stuff from them. We are fully respectful of them, but for us it is about keeping momentum and we have been focusing on ourselves. We have to make sure that areas of our game improve and we know we have to be at our best on Saturday.”
How disappointing is it to be losing Sione Kalamafoni?
DP: “Sione has been and continues to be a quality, top-end player for us. To lose players like Sione is sad for the group, club and supporters but it also presents an opportunity for younger players who we need to bring through. Carwyn Tuipulotu stepped up in the Cardiff game when Sione was suspended, we have a young guy coming through in Ben Williams who is going to be a very good player, we have Josh Macleod in that position, we have a lot of talent we want to promote. We need to bring the next group of Scarlets through the system, that is what we will aim to do and what we have started to do.”