Scarlets take on Saracens under the Friday night lights at the StoneX Stadium (7.30pm ko) having selected an exciting blend of youth and experience in their match-day squad.
We spoke to defence coach Gareth Williams ahead of the game.
Can you explain the thought process behind selection this week?
GW: “Obviously, with it being a down week from a competition perceptive it does offer opportunity. We spoke as a squad at the start of this week; we have players in different stages of the season, but also different stages of their careers. That opportunity to see new faces is really exciting but also exciting that we will see players who have been in and around our matchday 23 in the last few URC matches. They are players who have done an excellent job off the bench, now they get an opportunity to start a game. That is exciting going into the remaining URC matches as well as the knockout stages of Europe. There are players involved who are going to play a massive part come those special occasions.”
How much are you looking forward to taking on a side like Saracens?
GW: “It is a good relationship which we need to keep harnessing. To be fair, Saracens have been one of the most successful sides in Europe over the past decade, the opportunity to expose ourselves to that level of fixture and to keep that relationship going is really exciting.”
You must be excited to see some of the younger Scarlets?
GW: “Carmarthen Quins and Llandovery, and Llanelli with Chris Long, have been excellent in how they have supported us and not just supporting us but supporting the players in having the opportunity as well. You have someone like Kian Abraham who has been part of the U20s squad and has playing for Llandovery, and it is exciting to see young players like Macs Page, Isaac Young, Joe Rees come in, players who are big parts of our academy. As I said, we have players in this team who are at different stages of their careers and it is good to see that mix.”
Is this a stepping stone towards Sharks and knockout rugby in Europe?
GW: “Apart from the disappointment in Munster last week, generally we have been growing through the season. From my point of view, defensively, that Munster game was a brilliant learning curve going against one of the best sides in the league. This game is great to kick us on into this next block because there are players involved on Friday who will play a big part going into the latter stages of this season and knockout rugby.”