Dwayne Peel chatted to the press today ahead of Saturday’s United Rugby Championship opener in Edinburgh.
Here’s what he had to say . . .
You have made a change at captain, can you explain why?
DP: “Ken has done a fantastic job for seven years. The nature of him as a proud Scarlet, a proud West Walian, he will lead, he is a leader in himself and in whatever capacity he will lead. There was an element of freshening it up, but also for Ken as well to enjoy the last period of his career here. We all want the best Ken Owens on the field and I felt now was the best time for him to concentrate on himself to make sure his body is right and he can enjoy this environment. Both Ken and Jon have been fantastic role models for us. The big thing about Jon is that he also leads by example on and off the field, his work ethic is meticulous, he is a true professional, has a strong view of the game and he loves being a Scarlet, which for me is huge. He is proud to represent the region where he is from.”
How has it been looking forward to the start of the URC this weekend?
DP: “There is a real excitement in the group. On Monday, you could tell there was a real change in temperature and the atmosphere in the room. Most of the players are glad to see the back of pre-season and get into competitive fixtures. It has been a long nine weeks or so and after all the hard work, the boys are excited to see where we are at.”
What is the latest injury news?
DP: “Not much has changed. We are hoping to have Sam Lousi available this weekend. Josh Macleod is in the running mode of his recovery, he has done really well and been very diligent and professional. Johnny Williams is not far away so it will be a good boost to have him back after his shoulder injury. Patch is a couple of weeks away hopefully. As for Cubby, it is a slow process and we won’t be rushing him, when he is right he will return.
How much of a threat will Edinburgh be with a new coach and new home?
DP: “Whichever way you look at it, we are just excited to have the opportunity to play a competitive fixture. Obviously, it is an exciting time for Edinburgh and I’m sure it will be a good atmosphere, the crowd looks like it is close to the pitch and the boys are excited to go on a fast track. Hopefully, it will suit us and we can go up there and give it a good crack.”
Are you excited about the new league structure?
DP: “Last year was difficult for everyone, the PRO14 finished early, then the Rainbow Cup came in, it was a mixed bag. Having the full season with a different league structure as well as the inclusion of the big South African franchises is very attractive. For me, it is about us really promoting the league. Yes, the rugby has to be attractive, but I think it is important that everyone gets behind the URC and promotes it in the right way. I want to see as many people supporting the team as possible, as I am sure every team does. It is a new chapter in our history here at the club and we are looking forward to it. As I have said, we have worked hard in pre-season, there have been a few positive changes here and we want to give it a good go. Win, lose or draw, the performance will tell us where we are, if we need to fix things then we will and keep building and growing and see where we get to.”