The countdown is on to knockout rugby at Parc y Scarlets!
Head coach Dwayne Peel sat down to speak to the media this week ahead of a big night of European action against Brive.
Dwayne, first of all, your reflections on last Saturday’s win over the Sharks?
DP: “It makes Sunday morning easier, I’ll be honest! I was delighted with the win; we spoke after the game about our intensity and physicality and we were very good in those areas of the game. We knew we had to match the South Africans in those areas and I thought we did that. It was a big win for us and carries the momentum. We have had a good bit of momentum since before Christmas so to keep that going is great.
What do you see as the big change from the start of the season?
DP: “We have spoken a lot of game-plan, executing it and also having a consistency of game-plan and we are starting to see that consistency which is encouraging as a coach. You are not having to reinvent stuff every week, you do tweak here and there but it tends to be the same message week on week. Obviously, It is always a work in progress and the game is moving quickly so you have to keep tinkering and looking to make things better. Credit to the players, they have been very influential, they have the bit between their teeth and are enjoying their rugby.”
Now you have another big game on Friday night?
DP: “It is a big occasion, last weekend was a big one with the Sharks and the calibre of team they brought and this is another. Knockout rugby is great, you want to be part of the knockout stages of Europe. Brive will come here hard and make it difficult for us. If you saw their game against Racing in Paris, the result may not have gone their way but they were very competitive for large parts of that game, it was the same when they played Bordeaux at home as well. They are going to be very physical, they have excellent line-out defence, one of the best in the Top 14 and they fight hard at the breakdown. I can assure you we won’t be taking any opposition lightly, we have prepped well and expecting a tough challenge, especially up front, they will be a tough nut to crack.”
How is Dan Davis’s hamstring injury?
DP: “Dan Davis is going to struggle to be fit after going off early. It’s disappointing for him because he has been one of our form players, he has been excellent. For him to pick up an injury during this period is tough for him because he has worked hard. We will see how long it takes before he is right, having Shings back obviously helped in that area.”
Do you talk to the squad about the Scarlets history in Europe?
DP: “Over the years we have had some good occasions here, some big games. The history is there and when you look at the squad last weekend, 17 of the 23 came through our system, they are aware of what it means. We haven’t had to touch too much on the emotional side of it this week.”
As a player with the Scarlets, what are your favourite European games ?
DP: “Probably, the last proper run I was involved with the club, going away to Toulouse was a massive win, the quarter-final against Munster stands out and a few years before that the Leicester pool game at home. There are loads of them, but some you also look back on with regret, as much as we had some brilliant nights, the Biarritz loss and Perpignan loss at Stradey, when we were a good team then. if we had got through it might have been a different story. Look, it has been a brilliant tournament for the Scarlets and hopefully we can have another run, but just because we are home we have no God-given right to go through, we have a lot of rugby to be played and a lot of big games to overcome.”