Josh Macleod has been named the Scarlets’ top defensive player of the season following a vote by his own team-mates.
After each game, the players pick who they believe has contributed the most defensively to the cause and it was the 22-year-old back-rower who was crowned 'D Machine' for 2018-19, despite missing large chunks of the season through injury.
Macleod received a presentation (sponsored by St Brides Hotel Spa) from Scarlets defence coach Byron Hayward ahead of Saturday’s Judgement Day clash with the Dragons at the Principality Stadium.
Wayne Pivac’s side go into that match with a chance of booking a place in the Guinness PRO14 finals series as well as the fourth v fourth Champions Cup play-off.
The Scarlets need a win and hope other results go their way - Zebre host Benetton (5pm) and Edinburgh head to Glasgow (7.35pm) in the other key matches in the Conference B shake-up.
“We can’t change any other results, that’s out of our hands, all we can do is focus on ourselves and this week has been about getting what we do right,” said Macleod.
“It’s a match against another Welsh region and those games always have an extra bit about them.
“The Dragons are going to be a big challenge, it is no gimme, but hopefully we can put on an 80-minute show - something we haven’t been able to do for most of this season.
“We said after the win over Zebre that we only got into second gear and that is no disrespect to Zebre, it is the pressure we put on ourselves to perform.
“The focus this week has been making sure we up the intensity.”
Scarlets defence coach Byron Hayward congratulates Josh Macleod on his award
Macleod will make only his second appearance at the Principality Stadium having featured off the bench in the hard-fought Judgement Day V win over the Dragons two years ago.
“It is one of the best stadiums in the world, the boys who play for Wales are lucky enough to be used to it, but for me it’s only the second time I have played there,” added the former Wales Under-20s cap.
“It has been a frustrating season personally, I have had a couple of injuries, a shoulder at the start and then a stress fracture in my foot which kept me out for 10 to 11 weeks. It is only in the last few months that I have been able to have a decent run of games.”
Macleod’s frustration is echoed throughout the squad.
“We feel the season has been disappointing, we have not performed as well as we know we can, but we want to end on a high and show what we are capable of,” he added.
“We need to turn the glimpses we have shown in matches into an 80-minute performance.”